CCE staff and partner reflections on our collaborative work to create schools where learning is engaging and rewarding, and every student is set up for success.
The Why of Our Work - Staff Edition
CCE is grounded in its vision for an equitable world that sees each and every student well-prepared for college and their career. All of our team members at CCE hold to this vision, but we've all taken different roads in finding our place in this work. CCE staff came together as a whole to reflect on the why of our work—what drives us each day and gives us purpose, and what inspired our passion for education.
As a mother and grandmother, I believe I educate my children on a multitude of items. I am also continuously educating myself about the role I play in the work that is being done in the programs that I support.
I chose education as my career path because I love youth and experienced firsthand the stratification in quality of education children in our country experience. I thought this a grave injustice and wanted to join the fight against mis-education, especially that of children from historically disenfranchised communities.
I was surprised. I discovered that the things educators do—become fascinated by things, talk about them, think about them, think about thinking—I liked to do. Then I was even more surprised to learn I loved and cared about kids and their learning. Once the freshmen started laughing at my jokes I was hooked. Finally, once I came to understand education as a field I began to feel social responsibility not just for the kids in front of me, but all kids.
I do what I do in order to dismantle the system and rebuild it so that it meets the needs of learners, specifically those that have been historically marginalized and underrepresented.
Education has played a key role in my own personal story. Having the opportunity to go to college was a tremendous privilege and my family sacrificed to provide me with that opportunity. I wanted to be part of providing that same opportunity and privilege to others and that is why I am became an educator.
Coming from an immigrant family, going to college was expected. With that said, the education pathway I could follow was teaching, as it was considered "a great job for a woman" and there were no options. I found that I loved teaching and got into ESL early on (more kids like me) and felt that I could make a difference. As my career went on, I realized as much as I loved teaching, working and coaching teachers was most important and I became a principal to make a difference for teachers and kids.
Every person should have agency in their own lives—I see education as a pathway to empowerment. Knowledge is power!
I don't think I chose education, but rather education chose me. As an immigrant, I looked around and saw something remarkable. My family members, friends and acquaintances who came here highly educated and bilingual seemed to be having a smoother time of adjusting to the USA. Those who did not come with an education weren't offered many options. I realized that this scenario had nothing to do with ability, intelligence, or drive. The major difference was access. After coming to that point in my life, I knew I had to teach.
When I was 14 years old, I volunteered at a special needs school in my neighborhood. I enjoyed working with young, learning-different children. I also spent most of my middle and high school years supporting my older sisters with child care. I discovered during these years that I found purpose and joy in teaching and caring for young children. I was fortunate to have enrolled in a "vocational" high school childcare certification program where I learned the basics of teaching and worked in an early childhood program. This was the added experience that confirmed my desire to become a teacher. I have always loved school and was the first in my family to go to college. I started slow at the community college, moved to MA State college, and completed my teacher training at a private college with a B.S. Ed in Elementary and Special Education.
Education is a form of sharing and I began teaching as a way of sharing my curiosity as an artist, language-learner, and explorer of the world. Over the years, these interests have converged into the desire to recognize the complexity in the cycle and process of learning through my work in classrooms and organizations doing interdisciplinary instruction, and later on working for a test publisher that strove to understand the complexity of language learning. Working at CCE, I am able to contribute to the collective cycles of learning of other teachers, and to our collective understanding of the complexity of what learners are learning.
For me the question is actually less about why I "went into" teaching and more why I stayed when it got tough. Teaching was my "back up plan" when Peace Corps fell through due to national disrest in Haiti. I STAYED in teaching because I knew why I got up every morning. The students I served were black and brown kids like me. In my family higher education was mandatory as the key to professional options. For me teaching became my act of resistance (before I knew what that term meant). It was the way of contributing to creating a just society when I couldn't see any other way to do that.
Knowledge is power. What excites me most about being/becoming an educator is empowering folks who have been historically dis-empowered and oppressed through institutions - including education systems. As a life-long learner, I imagine working in partnership with people who take ownership of their education, history, and ways of knowing, to grow, heal, and liberate.
I feel like education chose me! It was the one career that I did not want to pursue! I think because my mother kept saying, "You should be a teacher!" of course, I wanted to avoid that career! However, when I graduated college it was the year that the school district was heavily recruiting new teachers on campus and emphasized the great salary, benefits, and that new grads could start right away! So I decided to give it a try and now 28 years later . . . I am still giving it a try and loving it! Sometimes, the path to your passion finds you!
I chose education as my career path because I feel compelled to work with young people and help them succeed, especially those who are from backgrounds that are marginalized and under-served. Being an educator is my way of giving back to society and bringing equity into the lives of these students.