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Why I Want to Teach: The Voice of a Young Teacher

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By Sarah Nicholas, National Student President of the Future Educators Association® (FEA is a member of the PDK International family of education associations)

I recently graduated high school, and I am about to start the next new adventure of my life, college! When people hear this, one of their first questions is always, "What are you majoring in?" I respond quickly and excitedly, "Secondary math teaching!" Their response then varies between a troubled sigh and concern for my poorly paid future. "Why would you settle for that?"

For me, I would be settling if I did anything but teach. I have wanted to be a teacher since I was a little girl. For me, the decision was easy. My mom, aunt, grandparents, and many others that I look up to are all teachers. As I've grown older, I still want to teach, but my reason has changed. Instead of dreaming of becoming a teacher because I want to be like those I look up to, I discovered I want to teach so I can make a difference in the world. "Be the change you wish to see in the world" is a favorite quote of mine by Gandhi. I want to see a marked improvement in children everywhere — how they are taught, educated, and prepared for life. And if I want to see this change, I need to be the one making it happen.

When I reached high school, I realized that I needed to decide what I wanted my area of focus to be. When I started thinking about it, I realized math has always come easily to me...probably because my dad is an engineer and his favorite subjects are those normally dreaded most: physics, calculus, and computer science. It struck me that maybe I could make this subject easier for those who struggling with it. It seemed to be a perfect blend for me — the teaching career I've always wanted, with the math that I love.

The closer I got to graduation, the more I started to realize that teaching at the secondary level means that I am going away to college only to come back to those crazy kids I've been surrounded by for the past four years of my life. Many question why I would ever want to do that, and it hit me that it is actually the perfect age to be around. Many high school kids are at a point in their lives when they are discovering who they are and who they want to become. So many teenagers put in one building, all trying to figure out how they fit in this world and what they are meant to do. I see that I can not only teach these kids math, but to every child that passes through my door, I can instill in them worth and show them what potential they have to accomplish these dreams they are discovering.

Yeah...I could be an engineer. I could be an astronaut, a doctor, a lawyer, or invent the next great thing. But instead, I choose to teach and inspire the next generation of children who will become our future engineers, astronauts, doctors, lawyers, and inventors. I want to change the world, so I am becoming a teacher.

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