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Running head: AUTOBIOGRAPHICAL ESSAY

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Lighting a Fire: an Autobiographical Essay Kim Richmond Carol Billing EDUC 201 Foundation of Education Spring ‘13

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Lighting a Fire – Autobiographical Essay
I have always been told I have a way with children. Even when I was young I loved babysitting for my parents friends or hanging out with my younger cousins at family function. For that reason I think I always thought I would work with kids in some capacity as a career. I started on that path out of high school but as sometimes happen, life got in the way and I put those plans on the back burner while I raised my own children and helped support my family. In an effort to do both, I was lucky enough to work for the local school district where I reaffirmed for myself the desire to work with kids. I love making a connection with kids who have checked out on themselves and the academics. Helping them see their potential is the most satisfying thing I could do with my life. I have made the decision to return to college in my forties to fulfill my personal goal of earning my degree and becoming an educator. In the end, I hope my life experiences including my educational background, work experiences, and time spend working with students in extracurricular activities will benefit me as a professional and I will have the tools needed to succeed. EDUCATIONAL BACKGROUND I have lived in Boise, Idaho since I was 8 years old. Beginning in the third grade I enrolled as a transfer student from Memphis, Tennessee into Franklin Elementary in the Boise School District. I attended Franklin through the sixth grade and progressed through the Boise School District to West Junior High School and eventually Borah High School where I graduated. As a senior at Borah High School I chose to take Elementary Education as an elective. I was placed at my old elementary school, Franklin, with a third grade teacher. While there I observed, worked one on one with students, helped to grade papers, and even did some

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instruction with the class as whole. What I took from that experience was that I wanted to teach and that I loved working with students. Immediately following High School I enrolled in Boise State University. I had very little motivation to continue my education at that time and received grades that reflected my lack of effort. I decided to drop out of school and join the work force. After working several years at a good paying job I was forced to make changes in my schedule when I got pregnant with my first then second child. I again wanted to get back into the school system not only for the ability to work around and with my children’s schedule but also to have an opportunity to do what I loved again which was work with kids. I was lucky enough to get a job with the Boise School District as an administrative assistant working in the offices. When I was first hired, I worked at Boise High School as an attendance secretary. After the first year I transferred to my Borah High School where I worked as the Counselors secretary, to the attendance office, to the In School Suspension Supervisor. In total, I worked for the Boise School District for 12 years. When I left I decided to do what I should have done years before and complete my education so that I could recognize my dream of helping children to recognize their own potential. Work Experience I have been in the work force for almost 30 years. I began working while in high school. The experience of working in the service industry gave me a good sence of how to read people and how important good communication skills are. Five years of sales gave me the opportunity to move into the human resource department as a regional assistant. I was able to help out in the hiring and training department along with scheduling, benefits and payroll. The training I did was with small groups of 6-8 people that lasted a full day. Training groups forced me to get over my fear of public speaking and also forced me to taylor the speed of the training to the skill

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level of each group. For example, some would have more experience with computers than others which meant some of the classes were able to cover more detail than others. When teaching students, learning to adjust the class to benefit the students is crucial. Five years later, I decided I needed to find a job that had a schedule more condusive to raising my kids. I applied and was hired with the Boise School District. I loved it immediately. I enjoyed working in the the school environment, the other staff, and the schedule. I also liked the strucute of the school day. What keeps students on track keeps the adults on track also. Lastly, and most importantly, I loved working with the students. After my first year with the district, I transferred to Borah High, it felt a bit like coming home again. The first four years, I worked in the counseling office as the assistant to that team which included 4 counselors, a transition counselor, a pyschologist, a social worker, and a career counselor. What I got out of that experience was the thought that a school counselor was a perfect secondary goal for me. I loved the idea of working with the students on a more personal level and admired the counseling staff for the good they were doing everyday. They really made a difference in a lot of kids lives beyond there education. After a change in administration, I was asked to move into the attendance office to help out there. With the constant phones and interruptions I learned to multitask and prioritize which has benefited me every since. I also had to learn how to deal with upset parents. Many times giving them a person to vent too without interrupting or minimizing their concerns went a long way to diffusing the situation. I was offered a position four years later in the In School Suspension (ISS) Room. I took it, and for my remaining time with the district I worked with students who were being punished for a number of different offences from excessive tardies to fighting to drug use. One of the challenges of this positon was the fact that the students assigned

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to ISS were often the students who had a hard time concentrating in class for 55 minutes but they had to stay in a desk in ISS for 6 hours. Keeping them on task, and out of trouble was difficult at times. All of the personal challenges associated with teaching such as motivation, personal bias, and patience came into play everyday. Working for the school district for 12 years solidified for me the desire to have my own classroom and work with students as an educator. Service and/or Extracurricular Activities When I had children I always encouraged their participation in extra-curricular activities. In addition to the physical benefits, in order to stay on the team grades are not only emphasized but monitored weekly. In addition, the kids are also monitored on facebook to make sure they are not posting pictures of themselves at parties with alcohol etc. I liked the school making the students responsible for their own actions. It took some of the pressure off me. I also liked that as a result of limiting the social options of the students, they end up spending more time with likeminded students. As an educator, I hope I can help encourage students to get involved with activities, clubs, and sports at their school. I have seen the difference a feeling of belonging to a team can make in the attitude of a student. Many times these students are very busy, even overscheduled, and can get stressed as a result. I know that keeping caught up on assignments with hours of practice every night can be difficult. I’ll try to remember that fact when making rules for late work. To help avoid what could be a problem, I plan to publish, and stick to, a class syllabus to keep important dates and assignments known from the beginning. Also, knowing who your students are and paying attention to their signs of stress will go a long way to helping keep all students on track. Reason for choosing education as a career

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I have always entertained the idea of working with children in some capacity. When I was very young, I thought I would love to work with new born infants in the hospital. It didn’t take me long to realize that there were too many other unpleasant aspects of working in a hospital for me to be fulfilled. By the time I got to high school, I was pretty sure I wanted to teach and was lucky to get the opportunity to take an observation class. While doing student observations, the teacher I worked with was very supportive and encouraged me to continue my education and complete my teaching degree. Unfortunately, as sometimes happens, I let life get in the way of finishing my education. I found myself with two small children and the need to work full time. I found the perfect fit for my schedule and my desire to work in the educational system when I was hired to work at Boise High School. Eventually when I moved into the ISS room, I worked with small groups and one on one with students who other teachers were having problems with. I found that I connected with these students just as much or more than I did other students. I found satisfaction in being able to get them to let their guard down enough to let me help them with their school work and help them to make good choices. I was given the opportunity to finish my education and knew immediately that I wanted to complete my degree in Education. My only question has been what level I wanted to teach. I have worked with elementary students in high school and high school students for the last 12 years in my job. I have enjoyed both levels and think what I really want is to feel like I am making a difference. I want to help students build confidence in themselves academically. I also had the opportunity to observe in a 2nd grade classroom this semester. One thing I remembered from high school is my tendency to mother students at that age and I would have to remember that. Whether high school or elementary school I have never been more sure that I want to teach.

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Professional Goals When I look into the future and set goals for myself as an educator, I think the key to success will be in continuing my own education in areas such as technology. Continuing my education even while teaching will help me to experience life from both sides of the podium and help me to include in my lesson plans those elements I find inspirational in my classes. Staying motivated as a teacher will help me to keep my students inspired and motivated to learn. I still remember those teachers who really connected with me in school and I hope to take something from each of them into my own classroom. The best teachers don’t allow themselves to become too complacent in their subjects and work to continually revise their lessons to get the most from their students. Technology will be the defining factor in classrooms in the future. In order to be a successful teacher, I will need to become skilled in educational technology and work to keep my knowledge current. As scary as that sounds, I can see the importance of utilizing technology in the classroom not only as a tool to help teach material but also to prepare the students for college where knowledge of technology will be mandatory to succeed. Even for those students who don’t continue to the university level, technology is an integral part of most jobs at any level and it will only continue to grow in the future. Preparing my students for the future will mean teaching technology hand in hand with all other subjects. No one is as lucky as those who get to spend their days doing what they love. Working with kids is what I love. Teachers literally help to mold the future of our country. No other profession is as rewarding, in my opinion. Through my experiences and education I hope to make a difference in the lives of my students as they make a difference in mine.