From an early age, I was told that I was going to grow up to be a teacher. A child of a retired teacher, I spent many hours in teacher supply stores, waiting in classrooms while mom was visiting teachers, and helping make learning aids and bulletin board items for our local church and school. Volunteering to help with the younger children classes at church and tutoring younger students helped to shape my awareness of what was needed to help keep things running smoothly and facilitate learning. It wasn’t uncommon for me to play school and even get my little brother in on the “classroom” experience. For most of my elementary school years, I was a student at a small church school in Davenport, Iowa. It was during this time that I observed many teaching practices that impacted my future decision to become a teacher. While in high school, I attended Sunnydale Academy, a boarding church school in Centralia, Missouri. During that time, I was a student aid to the science teacher and learned about the diligence and process that teachers go through. Once again, I was told that I should become a teacher. Being a typical teen, I was determined to pick my own future and pursued looking at careers that were far removed from the educational setting.
Upon arrival at Union College, I enrolled in business classes and started working towards a Business Administration degree. There was that little column of electives that I quickly filled with the classes that I considered to be an extension of previous life experiences, education, and focused on my accounting, advanced math, philosophy, ethics, and other great new courses. It was at the end of my Sophomore year of college, that a dear mentor and employer pulled me into her office and asked me a question that forever altered the course of my decisions. “Where do you want to be in 20 years? Who do you want to see across your desk? Grumpy adults who cannot and will not be satisfied, no matter what you do? Or do you want to see children, who have those moments and days where they are actually glad for what you do and are happy to be together learning about something new?” It was a challenge question that led me to realize what she had been observing and knew all along… my heart was really in my education classes. I was spending more and more time with my education classes, talking about them, sparking new ideas for them, and much more engaged with the content. It was in that realization that I turned in a change of major form, flipped my elective education classes to my major and my business classes to my electives, and enrolled in summer classes to be sure I had a solid foundation ready for my Junior year. I graduated on time, in 1993, with a NCATE (National Council of Accreditation of Teacher Education) approved Bachelor’s of Science in Elementary Education.
Since then, I have been engaged in many aspects of education ranging from teacher-principal-school board-volunteer. Since graduation, I have taught both in Iowa and Wisconsin. All of my teaching experience has been in multi-grade classrooms working with students from K-10 in a variety of grade groupings. With the absence of few years, while taking advantage of time with my children when they were young, I have taught 14 out the past 21 years here at Maranatha SDA Christian School. I have had the privilege of working with students from many walks and needs in life. No two students are alike, and each one is special in their own way. Struggling students, students learning on schedule, and students needing an enriched challenge all are worked with and planned for individually. Each student arrives with their own story, their own interests, their own “pre-loaded” ideas of what they like and don’t. Each student has areas that they are confident in, and areas that are not so great. I start knowing that recess and lunch are probably going to be their favorite subjects, and then work to find the key that turns learning on for them. While there are limitations on abilities within our classroom, I often find that time, patience, and encouragement can often make the biggest impact on learning. As a parent myself, I have learned to carefully consider that children grow with many admirable traits, and that many of them will not be measured in the classroom on a test or in a curriculum. Each of these traits should be nurtured and encouraged in the student; regarding their purpose and future in life with the value they are.
In order to be prepared for our classroom needs, I regularly participate as a student in continuing education classes. The world is changing, the needs our students will face are also changing. And yet, as much as things change, I am impressed with how much we are learning that reinforces how balance and flexibility still provide the best foundation as we encourage students to ask questions and seek answers. I try to model learning, questioning, and reformulating ideas in my own educational journey, even as I encourage students to grow and process in their educational journey. My journey isn’t done, continuing education is a regular part of my life, and often the selection of classes I enroll in are determined by the needs and interests of the students enrolled in my class.
My husband and I, along with our four children, are members of the local Lena Seventh-day Adventist Church. We participate in many of the activities of the church, holding offices, being of service where we are able. We believe in the importance of family and quality time. This is the season of our lives where we nurture our children, facilitate their pursuit of goals, and cherish the moments we are together. All of our children are now in the teen and beyond years, and we know the days of their daily time with us will give way to independence all too soon.