Leckie Elementary School, 4th grade, 34 years
Why did you become a teacher?
I have a passion for children. They are part of my life. Even at this hour when you called [after 5pm on a Friday], I was still in the classroom working with students. I just want to see them advance. I want to be part of the good life of children.
Who was your favorite teacher (by name) and why?
My favorite teacher was Mr. Adegoye, a teacher of mine in Nigeria, because he took time to put me through what I didn’t understand. He had the patience to deal with the individual differences in my classroom. He explained things to me. It wasn’t that he had a special interest in just me, but he saw me, saw that I wasn’t an aggressive person, that I was quiet and he needed to come to me. I listened to him and he showed a real interest in me and my learning.
Three adjectives that describe your job:
Exciting, energizing, worthy of my time
What is one thing that you wish someone had told you when you were a first year teacher?
I would have loved it if somebody had told me that this job would take more time than what I am paid for! [laughs]. You never finish the job if you are a dedicated teacher. You never can say “I’m done.” I wish someone would have told me that, but I found out fast. I love it though.
What's one thing your students have taught you about being a better teacher?
Years ago, one student wrote me a note telling me that I always challenged him, that I gave him the opportunity to express himself, that I was a terrific teacher. That helped to motivate me, and taught me to be happier about what I was doing. It made me realize how much I was doing to hear that they understood it and remembered it.
Tell a little about a time when a student's accomplishments completely exceeded your expectations. Or, tell a little about a time when you were inspired by a student.
That is a wonderful question. One of my students, starting in November, just turned everything around. I couldn’t believe the improvement. It makes you so happy to see a student move from one level to the next, from basic to proficient. To see this student who was not understanding, growing and growing, was inspiring.
Another student, who had behavioral problems, came to my room. The assistant principal had come to me beforehand to tell me what to expect. But I was surprised and pleased to see that in my class, it just didn’t happen with this student. It was a mystery to his mother, who asked me “What did you do?” I said, I showed affection, I did not believe that she was going to be troublesome. I don’t believe what people tell me about students. I need to see the student for myself to understand. This girl was supposed to be so troublesome, but in my class she was a different student entirely.
Why is teaching an incredibly important job?
Teaching is an incredibly important job because you are growing life. For instance, for students I taught years ago, when I see them where they are today, I am so glad. Teaching is so important in the life of students and everyone. As I am talking to you now, somebody was my teacher, and I am a teacher to so many. We are growing the future nation. Somebody was Obama’s teacher. Starting from kindergarten on, you will not go anywhere without your teachers.
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