As a kid, going to college was never really a topic of conversation at my house. It wasn’t frowned upon, of course, but it was also not really expected. If my sisters and I chose to continue our educations after high school, we were supported. However if we chose to get married, get a job or do something else, that was okay too. I grew up in the era that fell in between when most girls immediately married and became housewives and when girls all regularly went straight to college no matter what. I was the baby of the family, so I had watched my older two sisters before me (one got married, one went to college) so it was really up to me what I wanted to pursue.
I was already engaged to be married by the time I graduated from high school, so I was pretty heavily focused on that, but I also wanted to go to college as well to see what that was all about. I decided I would be the child in my family who did both marriage and college! I attended classes at TJC the summer after high school and then continued that fall at SFA in Nacogdoches. By the time I finished the second semester of classes, I was pretty sure that I had made a mistake. I had no idea what I wanted to get a degree in and I felt like I was wasting my parents’ money. No degree really sounded right and I had no particular career aspirations that I was certain of. I made the decision to quit school for a while, get a full time job and just save money and wait for inspiration to strike before going back to finish a degree. A year later, I was pregnant with our first child and became a stay at home mom. Within the next four years, we added to the family twice again.
As a mother of three by twenty-five, I felt both the most wonderfully fulfilled and the most dramatically frazzled. The days were long but those years passed so very quickly. After nine years at home with my little ones, I returned to the work force in 2005 when our youngest was old enough for preschool. I was hired by the school she was attending to take on a different preschool class and the spark was ignited for early childhood education. I spent five years in classrooms surrounded by three and four year olds, soaking up all the excitement, inquisitiveness, joy and fun that come from teaching little children all day every day. Toward the end of those years, I was invited to go to work at the alternative campus in Whitehouse where I would work half days in the classrooms of the REACH program. This is their self-paced graduation program for kids with special circumstances that requires them to graduate early or at their own speed. It was so powerfully fulfilling to see struggling kids smile ear to ear, knowing they’ve achieved something huge when many never thought they’d graduate at all. After several years there, I moved to my current job, working with special education students at another local school. I’ve learned that education is absolutely my calling in life and it brings me great joy to see kids succeed, whether as little children, high school seniors or in the middle school years.
Do you find fulfillment and happiness in your work?