I grew up in a big city as a Military kid. Even though I was fortunate enough to stay in the same city throughout my education, my parents moved us around quite a bit as they got their own lives together. By the time I stepped onto my High School Campus as a Freshman I had already been to 5 different schools. Since I always seemed to be the new girl, focusing on my actual school work seemed like background noise. It’s not like I was a bad kid, but definitely not what one might call studious. I was so intent on finding “the thing” that would make me fit in, that I didn’t see the point of putting my energy into class.
That all changed my Freshman year in my History class. I never considered History my favorite subject – I honestly don’t know if I even had one – but the way our teacher captivated us each day made me want to know more. He was enthusiastic and passionate and it all came out in his lessons. Initially, I just liked the class as a time slot in the day. I’d look forward to it each day because I couldn’t wait to hear new exciting stories from the exotic History Guy, Mr. Brockett.
Soon, however, I started to realize that I was getting into the subject, too. Mr. Brockett inspired us to discover our own favorites in History by giving us fun incentives for outside of class. I became so into U.S. History that my free time was spent reading war memoirs from General Patton, looking up first-hand accounts of the sinking of the U.S.S. Indianapolis, and even annotating Hitler’s creepy manifesto Mein Kampf. I found something within myself because Mr. Brockett was willing to show us an exciting side of a subject we all thought we’d heard before.
One day in class, it just clicked. I looked up at Mr. Brockett, and wanted to be him. I wanted to do what he did. Since that moment, I have put my whole heart into teaching. I worked one period each day as Mr. Brockett’s Teacher’s Assistant for the next 3 years. He taught me some of the behind-the-scene-secrets to teaching and even let me prepare small pieces of lessons that were especially exciting to me. In college, he continued to mentor me. I called as often as I could to discuss strategies I was learning. I absolutely could not wait to step into my own classroom one day and put it all into action.
When I got my job, only 2 months after I graduated, my father gave me a starfish necklace. He told me a story that I have never forgotten…
“One day there was a terrible storm along the coast that left thousands of starfish stranded on the sand. A man watched as a little boy walked from starfish to starfish, picking them up and tossing them into the water to save them. The man looked up and down the beach. There were stranded starfish for as far as the eye could see. After a few minutes, the man approached the young boy. He asked, ‘What are you doing? There are way too many starfish that need help. There is no way to save them all, so what does it matter?’ The young boy simply picked up another starfish and tossed it into the water. He looked back up at the man and said, ‘It mattered to that one.'”
I try and live my life with that story as my inspiration. I think of how Mr. Brockett helped me and how I can help my students. Even if I can inspire 10, or 5 or even 1….even if all I can do is get them interested in my lesson for the 42 minutes they have me each day, I can feel like I made an impact.