I made my first presentation at a state conference this past Saturday on March 14, 2014 at the NJAMLE State Conference at Kean University, Union, NJ.
Interestingly, this is the very same campus where my journey to becoming a teacher began many years ago. At the time, it was called Newark State College. I attended night school because I had been one of those half-hearted students in high school who thought, as so very many of my current high school students believe, that they will get into college because… well, because that’s the plan! Not realizing that ‘the plan’ required diligent, hard work to get there, I and many like me fell into the trap of thinking that somehow, it will all just come together.
Needless to say, it didn’t ‘just come together’ for me. I started college classes at 5:00 PM Monday-Thursday nights. I took two classes an evening; one from 5:00PM- 7:15PM and the other 7:30 – 10:00 PM. Going to school at night, however, was not the biggest shock to me. No, the biggest shock to me was that the other students in the class actually did their homework! Going to school at night meant that I was 17 1/2 years old in a class with students who were working full time jobs and going to school at night to get their college degree. They were grownups. They were 30 years old and older. They had paid money out of their income to come to school at night. They spent time away from their families and they were not there to fool around. Once all of that hit me, I got it that they did their homework. I got busy.
Read 60 pages? No problem? I actually had a geology class where the final exam was to identify 100 rock samples laid out around the room. And one woman actually got them all right! The curve was blown… the next highest grade was 75 and we were all out of luck because she knew them all!
My journey moved on to William Paterson College the following year, finishing on time with the rest of my high school class. My college days didn’t resume again until in 2001, trying to copy with my PTSD from being a few buildings down from the Trade Towers, I attended Monmouth University to get a Masters Degree in Corporate Communication. I graduated with honors and a smattering of education courses because I realized I wanted to go back to the classroom.
And so I did. I had a few positions before I landed in Monroe Township (Middlesex County) in 2005 as a middle school teacher of the handicapped in math and science. Although I currently teach in the high school, my heart belongs to the middle school. And how perfect it was to speak about my passion for middle school where it all started for me at a conference about which I am so passionate.
How cool is that?