When I was a little girl dreaming of doing big things (like staying up past 8 p.m.), I created a little world of make-believe in my bedroom: I would line up my stuffed animals and younger brother, announce, “Class is in session!” and insist they call me “Teacher.” There was something exhilarating about the title. In my mind, “teacher” symbolized intelligence, competence and wielding unbridled power over my minions.
Every day, my toys and I covered reading, writing and no arithmetic—because it has never been my strong suit. I assigned homework, and if Pooh Bear didn’t return it the next day, it was a detention for him!
I took my job very seriously.
As I grew older and more mature—e.g., I discovered “Beverly Hills 90210″—a love of writing held me hostage. If my nose wasn’t in a book, I was creating original pieces. Poetry scribbled in different-colored pens replaced the mini-chalkboard on my bedroom walls. My world of make-believe now existed on paper. Each day, I recorded my innermost thoughts in a journal and actually thumbed through a thesaurus to learn new words. There was nothing sexier than “90210’s” Brandon Walsh’s good grades and extensive vocabulary.
No, I’m not kidding.
Fast-forward to my senior year of high school. I was preparing to attend college.
As a journalism major.
Shocked? My mom was too.
Mom: “Stephanie, you are meant to be an English teacher! It is in your bones!”
Me: “Yeah, I’m more interested in journalism. Maybe I’ll be on the news.“
Mom: “I’m sure you would be a great news anchor, but you were born to be a teacher.”
My mom has a flair for the dramatic, but it is only fair to mention that I have a flair for the “once I make up my mind, you will not change it.” Away I went to college, majoring in journalism.
What’s that saying about when you’re wrong, you should never admit it and waste two semesters’ worth of your parents’ money at college? There isn’t one, because it is a bad, BAD idea.
I was miserable. I didn’t like my classes, I wasn’t crazy about my professors, and the only ray of sunshine in my academic day was my communications class, where I communicated with people instead of on paper. Turns out, I was pretty good at relaying information to others and …wait for it …teaching.
I tucked my tail between my legs and returned home to tell my parents I wanted to change my major to education. I promised to work hard and make up for lost time, and avoided eye contact when that “I told you so” smile plastered itself across my mother’s face.
Fifteen years and a few extra dollars later (sorry, Dad), I am a high school English teacher, certified in four different states, with traditional and virtual classroom experience under my proverbial belt. But the best part? My job rocks. How many people can say that they truly love what they do every day?
I just wish I had listened to my mom (don’t tell her I said this). Silly, silly teenager. If only I had heeded the obvious signs.
Oh, and if your parent, especially the one who carried you for nine months, thinks you were born to be an English teacher, you go to college and become an English teacher.
Stephanie Jankowski loves words, hates math and has a penchant for making people uncomfortable with her honesty. An English teacher by trade and smack-talker by nature, you can find more of Stephanie on her blog WhenCrazyMeetsExhaustion.com