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Autobiographical Essay

JD Tarbet

Mrs. Carol Billing

EDUC 201 Foundations of Education

11:30 12:45, Spring 2016



Everything I have done in school, as well as life, has led to where I am today. The

decisions I have made have taught me the consequences to better prepare for the future. From my

experiences in the classroom, to the interactions and lessons outside, everything has molded me

into who I am today.

Educational Background

Ive been going to school for a total of 18 years. The usual 13 years in public schools, K-

12, plus an additional five years in college. I grew up in a town of 10,000 people in Wyoming; a

place called Riverton. I started at Jefferson Elementary. The school was a building so old that it

was old when my step-father, who is in his mid-sixties, went there. The buildings gone now, it

was condemned roughly when I was in the third grade, and a year later it was closed.

I attended Rendezvous Elementary, housed in the old junior high of the town that the

school district repurposed for the fourth and fifth graders. It was called Rendezvous for two

reasons. Firstly, because the towns history revolved around the local settlers and mountain men

who gathered with the local Indians annually to trade and barter. The second reason was that

there were roughly five elementary schools in the area, three public, one Catholic, and one

private, and all five schools would come together for those two years to get the students

acclimated their peers, before all the awkwardness of pre-teen angst and hormones.

After Rendezvous Elementary, it was on to the dreaded middle school. As you could

probably tell, middle school wasnt my favorite period of my education. Three wonderful years

of sixth, seventh and eighth grade. It was these years I started to commit to extracurricular

activities. I was in the schools drama club for seventh and eighth, and band for all three years. It

was in middle school as well that I started to develop and learn of my extra intelligence, despite

immense laziness. I tested high enough to be put in the higher education classes, such as Algebra

I a year ahead of the majority of the class, as well as higher reading and science classes. I didnt

like doing homework, and getting me to complete it was just as much of a chore for my family

and instructors as it was for me to actually do it. Again, a common trait for a lot of people at that


Things improved in high school, slightly. I dabbled once more in drama, but was fed up

with, for lack of a better term, the drama with my peers. We were still young, and for my

classmates, Drama club was a means of having fun while doing something we liked. This meant

not taking the rehearsals seriously, and goofing off during practice.

I left drama and joined wrestling. A feat that was difficult for someone like me. Someone

who, had not only never wrestled a day before in his life, but also had Cystic Fibrosis. Wrestling

was the hardest six months of my educational life, but I wouldnt trade it for anything in the

world. It was there that I learned that despite my ailments and limitations, those boundaries could

be pushed. To be fair, by the end of it all, I had lost a lot of weight and looked skinny and sickly,

but I was probably at my healthiest state.

Work History

When I was a child, my parents divorced. Shortly after this, my mother met and moved in

with a local cattle rancher, bringing me along. This is how we came to live with my step-father.

My entire life was spent mostly helping around the ranch, working with cattle and ranch chores. I

spent a lot of summers irrigating our fields of hay. I spent a lot of time underneath vehicles,

either handing the head honcho (my step-dad) tools, or underneath myself putting it together or

tearing it apart. I was also the unofficial tech support, considering I was the most accustomed to

using the computer, so whenever something didnt work out right, I was the one the parental

figures called. This taught me many things, primarily patience. There were various times when

my step-dad would say, Go into the shop and get me the thing for this, or Hand me that

thing, while pointing in a very vague and general direction.

Due to my rural upbringing, I also attended my local chapter of 4-H. I liked the arts and

crafts aspect of 4-H more, mostly because I grew accustomed to working with my hands.

Creating something felt so good, and it was fun. This bolstered my creativity.

As for actual work outside of ranch work, which I still return every summer and work as

a general ranch hand, and 4-H, Ive only held one official job, as of January 2016. That job was a

Game Advisor (fancy corporate talk for Sales Associate) at GameStop. Primarily I spent my time

there selling games to customers, as well as general store upkeep.

Ethical Reasoning in Education

In my junior year of high school I was in the drama club. We didnt do any big

productions, just a couple of short 30 minute skits that we were planning to perform around

Christmas. Our school didnt have an auditorium, so we were to perform the skits at the

community college that was just across the street. In the original plans for the high school, there

were plans to make an auditorium area for assemblies, concerts for the band, as well as drama

performances, but when the school was built, they ran out of money and cut the auditorium

altogether. Fast forward to the night of our production, and the drama instructor received a call,

saying we couldnt perform at the college, due to a death threat against one of the instructors

there having been found in a bathroom. The college went into lock-down and this included their

performing arts area. Our drama club had to relocate to the middle school, that was also a stones

throw away, and perform in the cafetorium.


This transition sparked an emotional meltdown of our drama instructor, which quickly

spread to the more emotional people of the group, (it was a drama club after all). For years, our

drama head had been fighting and petitioning the school board to put money aside for an

auditorium so she wouldnt have to keep relying on the good graces of the community college to

make her dramatic productions. She went even so far as to incorporate her students into rallies

and petitions that yielded no results. The biggest outset of this though was the resentment it made

towards the athletics department by the drama students, especially when the old football field in

town was deemed unsafe due to the concrete bleachers being too close to the field, and a

completely new one was constructed in between the high school and the middle school. A

project, I might add, that took many years to complete due to low funding from the school board

as well as the community. The field itself was complete within a year including the track that ran

around the field, but it took an additional two years before there were stands and actual audience

areas were added. This little fact was overlooked and neglected except when it was convenient

for the drama students and teachers.

They spend so much money on the sports department, they would say, speaking as if it

were all one gelatinous sport, and yet we get nothing. Why do they need all new jerseys every

year? Cant they use the same equipment? And why do they get a new football field when weve

been asking for an auditorium for ages? Coming from sophomore drama members.

Well, you try wearing the same clothes that have been sweated in and worn down by at

least two other students, I would reply, And the football fields not even finished. They still

need bleachers and convenience areas so people could actually come and enjoy the event. Plus,

the field is used by almost all the sports teams with the exception of the soccer teams in the

spring. Even in wrestling we used the field when the weather was nice enough.

Well that just goes to show that they cant allocate their money properly. If they gave it

to us, wed have an auditorium in no time, they would say proudly, almost as if they would raze

the ground themselves, and coming from a group of people whose only carpentry experiences

were making 2D sets out of plywood and scrap.

This was a very egoistic point of view on their part. We went to a poor school. We

werent scraping for cash, but the fact that it took 3 years to get a simple football field complete

goes to show that we didnt have the money for a whole new building. And the money for the

extra curriculum programs were divided accordingly to the percentage of student participation.

The drama club, and speech and debate teams were the smallest groups in the school, and didnt

honestly need all that much aside from transportation to speech meets, and a little cash for the

plays. But the students, and particularly the instructor who managed both, ignored this fact. It

was easier to complain and gripe, rather than accept the fact that the drama department in our

little rural town didnt have the support they needed to get exactly what they want. It wasnt as if

they were completely abandoned though. There was enough of a turnout annually to keep the

drama club supported, and 9 times out of 10, the college was more than cooperative with giving

the club the stage when we needed it, as long as it didnt clash with college groups that needed it,

and it wasnt like the college was 10 miles away. You could see the administration building from

the high school parking lot.

Why I chose Education

As I stated before, my education career up until this point has been filled with doubt and

uncertainty. Ive tried multiple programs of study, and even joined separate entry level courses to

get a feel and decide what I want to be when I grow up. Ive gone through the Electronics

Technology courses to see if that worked for me, Computer Science, and even spent a year on

just plain old Liberal Arts since I knew that covered a lot of my basics no matter what field of

study I went into. I guess the reason I finally settled on a teaching career was for multiple

reasons. Firstly, I enjoy math. It was always one of my better subjects in school, and to me, its

the logic and practice thats like solving a puzzle. You just need to know how the pieces work

and fit to figure it out. Secondly, Ive always been told Im good with kids. Ive babysat for

family friends, and even kept the kids entertained at family gatherings and events. I like working

with children, and while Im working towards the field of secondary level mathematics, rather

than primary, I know Ill be working more with young adults rather than kids. I think in the long

run, Id prefer working with young adults because its more academically stimulating and


As for what I hope to gain from becoming a teacher, its mostly personal, and a little

selfless as well. My big goal is to be able to teach back in Wyoming, optimally at my old high

school. Living in Idaho for so long, I enjoy the benefits and all the activity around, but I still miss

home. Plus, Wyoming does tend to pay their teachers a bit better, and while moneys not my

biggest selling point (obviously since teachers dont really make Trump-levels of cash), the

added income would be nice. To balance that out though, teaching is technically a government

gig, so the benefits help offset that enough, in my opinion at least. The other selling point is the

vacation time. 2-3 months out of the year off for summer break is a nice touch, and one that I

would like to be able to either return home if Im still in Idaho, or come back to Idaho and visit.

Professional Goals

Despite the fact that Im 23 and almost halfway through with college, at least this

program, I still am second guessing myself on what I want to do with my life. Obviously I want

to teach, but do I want to teach my whole life? Do I want to start out teaching and further my

education to find other options? Back home in Wyoming, my best friend from high school and I

wanted to start our own business; a sort of game store in our home town for kids to come and

hang out after school being theres not a whole lot for kids to do in that town. We still have this

vision. Weve even selected the building that would work perfectly for it. For that Ill obviously

need to take business classes, but will I want to work on that while I teach? Take summer courses

since Ill have that time off anyway? My long-term goals are still a mystery for me. There are so

many uncertainties that hinge entirely on what I want to do and where I want to go. I still love

working computers, so maybe instead of teaching math, I take a few computer science courses

on the side and teach computer courses at the school. My old high school had a multimedia class

that taught all kinds of computer based programs. One year, she let us pick our curriculum and

we dabbled a little in 3D editing, and I spent a lot of time learning Adobe Flash.

As for short-term goals, those are easy. Obviously I need to get through my classes, and

within the next semester or two, Ill be transferring to BSU or another university in the valley.

Right now, my primary focus is getting through school. That will help with my career, because

obviously I need a degree to go into teaching, or almost any thats worth a damn these days. My

plans are still the same annually: finish the school year, go home and work on the ranch that pays

for my tuition, rinse and repeat.

As of late, Ive had a focusing problem. Perhaps its because Im so close to finishing

school and having to face venturing out on my own, or perhaps Im tired and ready to stop, but I

know I need to get back into the groove, and slowly I am. Im ready to be on my own, but I still

want to stay in my youth. Perhaps thats why Im going into education, not so I can stay in a

youthful state, but to guide those like me that are kind of adrift with no real direction and give

them a heading.