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Ima Person

Autobiography and Philosophy: The Roots of My Belief

He who plants a tree/Plants a hope. Lucy Larcom (1826-1898)
Typically, the tree is used to represent knowledge. Strong and proud, it stands firm
against the elements of nature, growing steadily toward a fruitful tomorrow. We tend to forget,
however, that this powerful figure began as a fragile seed. Teaching, I believe, reflects this
process of growth. The goal of education is not to produce an adult tree, but to nurture and
encourage the seeds that are born within the minds of students in effort to guide them into a
confident lifetime of learning. Through education, the seeds of knowledge and understanding
may be rooted into a future of continuous growth and discovery.
Within the past few years, I have gained valuable experience working with students from
a variety of backgrounds. From my own education at the University of Missouri, I have been
able to enter the field and work directly with high school students in English Language Arts
classrooms. These students range from motivated, college-bound students to those who are at
risk of failure in high school. From this experience, I have stepped away from theory and into
the practice of teaching, openly facing the struggles, victories, and realities of todays youth. I
have also been able to volunteer at The Rainbow House, a shelter for abused and neglected
children, located in Columbia, MO. My work here has led me to experience the variety of
personal histories that ultimately affect the lives of children, including their education. In the
spring of 2001 I had the opportunity to study at the University of Strathelyde in Glasgow,
Scotland. During this time, I studied British Literature and traveled throughout the UK and
much of Europe. In the summer I had the wonderful opportunity to teach an English as a Second
Language class in Dorset, England. My students were wholly Italian, though the program hosted
French, Spanish, Italian, Russian, and Chinese students. From this experience I was not only
able to engage in a variety of cultures, but to also see the world through the eyes of a teacher and
work with students from a multitude of cultural backgrounds, enriching my views of the world
and enhancing my excitement to teach.
From my many experiences with students, I have come to realize that education is a
complex process of interwoven people, experiences, and attitudes. Education is a collective
product of family, community, society, and classroom ideals that must cooperate to create an
effective environment for learning. As a teacher, I must be aware of the expectations placed
upon me from the community, state, and nation to attend to a curriculum, as well as understand
my students as individuals and mold my teaching around their variety of needs and interests. No
two students are alike; each student is comprised of a lifetime of experiences and characteristics
that affects him or her as a learner and as a person. My own expectations include a sense of
responsibility to the results of state testing and statistical appearance of effective teaching, but
my experiences have made me realize the importance of interpersonal relationships that I must
build in order to know, reach, and inspire my students. Teaching is a delicate balance: I must
convey a set spectrum of knowledge to my students while nurturing their skills within the
learning process based on their personal needs and interests. It is my goal to shape my classroom
around the endless diversities of my students so as to inspire the born leaders within them and
encourage the seeds of growth that will anchor them into a confident future.