Teacher backgrounds

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As they say, “Teaching is the profession that teaches all other professions.”

Teachers are the people who shape our futures, teaching students what they need to start living independently. If it weren’t for teachers, the world wouldn’t be as we know it. All the generations after us depend on them and what they teach us. But what inspires people to take up this career?

Mrs. Clifford, a seventh grade history teacher on the Trailblazers team, has been teaching for 16 years, this school year being her 17th. From a young age, she gotten an idea of the job from her mother, who was also a teacher.

“I thought it would be a great career,” she says.

She explains that when she was in school, she had classes with good teachers. In high school, she realized she enjoyed history the most amongst other subjects, and especially enjoyed U.S history.

She said that she wanted to teach middle school after student teaching these grade levels. When Mrs. Clifford was in college, she was assigned student teaching in middle school.

“I was actually kind of bummed that I had to do middle school,” she said.

After she started student teaching, though, she really enjoyed the age group. She said it is a fun level, and that she likes watching kids learn something for the first time. Mrs. Clifford likes telling the stories of the country’s history to kids that have never heard them before.

“It’s fun to see in my student eyes, the wonder of learning about our past,” she said.

Another staff member at Carson, Mr. Treakle, one of our school’s librarians, wasn’t always in the library. He has taught different types of sciences for 21 years, and has been in our school library for nine. He has been at Carson since its opening in 1998. He has taught middle and high school life science, earth science, biology, chemistry, and environmental science. He is also the sponsor of the Going Green Club at Carson. He was a Boy Scout as a child and attended multiple camping trips.

“I think that the early exposure to nature has given me a deeper interest for it,” he says.

Before he was a teacher, Mr. Treakle also worked in a lab for one and a half years. Using fish and crustaceans, they tested water quality in the lab. They made sure the water that factories dumped their waste into was safe for the environment.

Mr. Treakle majored in biology at Virginia Tech, a result of his love of the outdoors and science. In his junior year, he heard that he could take courses to become a teacher.

“I didn’t grasp onto the idea right away, but I thought I’d give it a try,” he said.

He says that at first, it was challenging for him. He was very shy at the time, and so he explains getting up in front of the class to present was daunting for him.

Now, after his years of teaching, he works in the Carson library. He had to take seven courses and do student teaching at Westfield High School’s library over the summer. Then, he received his certification as a librarian and came back to Carson.

“All the skills that I had developed as a teacher were valuable and still are,” he concludes.

He says that though he’s not a fast reader, he has always loved reading. He explains that he has a passion for learning new things and gathering information, and he is able to achieve that through books.

“Whenever I go into a library, I found it very relaxing, and I just thought, maybe I could try something new,” he explained.

Ms. Donovan, the other school librarian at Carson, has wanted to be a teacher for as long as she can remember. For her, helping kids that are younger than her had always been a passion since age 5. She says that she has always really wanted to be a teacher, and there hasn’t been a moment where she decided that. It was just a career she always had in mind. From the very start, she knew she wanted a job where she could help children.

“I’ve always been a bookworm,” she says.

She says she’s disappointed that when she was in middle school, young adult fiction wasn’t much of a thing, and she loved watching young adult books evolve from her time. When Ms. Donovan was an English teacher, she loved teaching the novel units. She was also a Civics teacher at one point during her career and used to bring in historical fiction and nonfiction books that were related to the topic she was teaching. She says that storytelling and literacy is, in her opinion, a good way to teach and to interest her kids in learning.

When she was little, she wanted to teach preschool and high school, but never middle school. However, when she was a lifeguard in summer in high school, she felt that she really bonded with the age group. She explains that when middle school children came to the pool, seeing that she was only a few years older than them, they asked her for advice.

“I felt like I impacted middle schoolers more than others,” she expressed. “They are needy enough to need a mentor to push them in the right direction.”

There are other teachers at Carson with similar experiences and reasonings for becoming teachers. Ms. Joyce, the Math teacher for the Trailblazers team, said that she teaches because she had a lot of good teachers when she was in school.

“I had a lot of really good examples of what teachers do and what the job is like,” she said.

She also really loved math and working with kids, so she thought that teaching math would be a job she would enjoy. She pointed out that since she had already spent so much time in school, it would be a setting that she would be used to. At first, she wanted to be an engineer, but when she really thought about it, teaching is what she wanted to do. This is Ms. Joyce’s fourth year teaching at Rachel Carson, and she taught for one year in Pittsburgh.

“I’m really happy with the choice that I made,” she says.

Mrs. Toweson, another seventh grade English teacher, has a similar perspective. She has always loved children and taking care of them.

“I just really liked school and I always imagined myself as a teacher,” she said.

Mrs. Toweson also had great teachers who kept her dream alive. But, Mrs. Toweson never really wanted to teach English. She actually wanted to teach math. But in the middle of the year, the only job available was a seventh grade English job, so she figured she would accept it and take a new job the next school year.

“I thought I would just do English for another year, and now it’s been 16 years and here I am.”

She said she has grown to love English, though she hadn’t intended on teaching it at first. Mrs. Toweson’s hope to become a teacher began when she fell in love with learning. She said that once in the end of second grade, she got chicken pox.

“I would cry everyday and tell my mom ‘I’m not sick I’m not sick,’” she said, “just to go back to school.”

She also always had a love for children. She ran a daycare at a church, and in college, she conducted summer camps for kids. Mrs. Toweson said that she wanted to teach middle school so she could focus on one subject instead of many. She always thought she would teach elementary, but after student teaching both levels, she decided on teaching middle school.

“I just thought I would do a better job,” she says.

There are teachers at Carson who have also had a difficult journey to get where they are now.

At just 11 years old, Mr. Shah, a seventh grade science teacher on the Trailblazers team, moved to America to escape from Afghanistan. His family had to flee from Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion because both of his parents worked with Americans at the time. When the American Embassy closed, they had been suggested to leave for safety.

Mr. Shah has now been teaching for 26 years. He says he has four or six more years to go to retire.

“I’m getting old,” he jokes.

He got his bachelor’s degree and master’s degree at George Mason and started teaching at age 22.

“I didn’t really want to become a teacher,” he said.

He intended on becoming a dentist, but only survived two weeks in dental school before dropping out. He said he probably considered being a dentist because he made tooth models for his orthodontist.

He went back to George Mason where an advisor had him fill out a questionnaire about possible careers. The results said that he would be a great social worker. He was also informed about a new master’s program on middle and elementary school teaching that you could get in one calendar year, so he decided to apply into the program and he got in.

“As soon as I started, it seemed to fit into who I was and what I wanted to do,” he says.

He originally never was interested in teaching though, because he thought that teachers didn’t make much money and that it was a hard job, which he says ended up being true. He also says, now that he’s taught for so long, that the job is also fun and that he really enjoys it.

So, even though many other teachers may have different opinions, the teachers at our school love what they do. It may have been their love for school or their love for children, but it usually is that good teachers inspired good teachers. Being a teacher, you will always make new memories. When it comes to middle schoolers, you never know what you’re going to face, but a teacher is always prepared.

Like Mrs.Toweson said, “There’s always a good story to tell with it.”

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Teacher backgrounds