Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Difference Education Makes

A few minutes ago, I was drafting an entry for a teacher contest on an education website. The contest entry was to "to share how education has influenced your life, either through your own experience or through the difference you made in a child's life."

Here is what I wrote:

In 4th grade, our school counselor, Dr. White, visited for Career Day. She told us a little bit about what she did as a school counselor then opened the floor for questions. My hand shot up into the air: "If you don't work in a hospital, why do we call you ‘doctor’"?

Dr. White smiled, "It's because I went to school and studied for a long time. You can do that, too, then everyone will call you doctor." I liked the sound of that and told her I would do the same. "Promise," she asked. I nodded. Later, I looked up what it would take to get my doctorate degree.

Little did I know, Dr. White had saved my life; I had no inkling of the kinds of dips life could take, that, over the next seven years, I'd survive a molestation, a turbulent mother-daughter relationship, a botched suicide attempt, a rape and the resulting pregnancy.

Even given those circumstances, I always had in my head the promise I made at the age of nine. It gave me the drive to push through the dark times, to keep moving forward even when my knees threatened to buckle under the burden of my problems. Because of that promise, I not only graduated from high school with one child, I, also, became the first woman in my family to graduate from college. 

I still haven't achieved fulfillment of that promise but I am working towards it. In the meantime, after, somewhat, unwillingly beoming a teacher myself, I use my position in my students lives to be their encouragement, to give them hope, to be that beacon in the darkness that often surrounds the adolescent years. Just last week, I had an ex-student on Facebook that I was the first person to let him know that college was a possibility for him. It was then that I truly realized what a blessing it is that we are in one of the most influential positions to be so positive and so encouraging to so many young people. That makes the constant struggle against the government and its ridiculous policies worth it. We are the difference is so many people's lives.

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