How did you decide to pursue teaching as a career?
I did not figure out I was going to be a teacher until my junior year in college. The summer before junior year, I was a lifeguard at the Elm Grove pool, and I had already bounced around four different majors, thinking, “I don’t know what I want to be when I grow up.” I was teaching swimming lessons, and this mom (of one of my students) said, “You should think about becoming a teacher.” So, I minored in education and majored in sociology, then went to grad school, and started at MPS.
What led you to teach at Christ King?
The position opened up, and my son kept coming home that year (with his work), and I said, “Why are you getting such bad grades? This is not hard.” So I thought, well, I let my license lapse. I wasn’t even certified to teach middle school. I’ll throw my name in there and see because that sounds like something I could do. They hired me, and I’ve been here ever since. I truly believe that God will lead you to where you are supposed to be. You can try something, but if it’s not (what) God wants you to do, it’s not going to work out. He will bring you where you need to go.
What do you like about teaching middle school?
I think it works the best for me because I’ve had middle schoolers in my life. I’ve raised teenagers. So, number one, I understand them. I understand how to parent them. If you understand how to parent teenagers, you’ll understand how to teach them better.
What is something cool you have witnessed with your middle schoolers recently?
Recently, a student had a birthday party. He invited the whole class to watch a movie in his backyard. Rather than receive gifts from the entire class, he asked each student for a monetary donation. The money collected was divided amongst our middle school teachers, and we each received a very generous gift to spend on something we needed for our class. I was able to buy five new math games for my room. It was such a selfless treat.
How have you grown as a teacher?
Number one, when you’re a parent, you change. I’m a totally different teacher than I was when I was 25. Number two, I’ve also had a kid who has struggled, and I really think that changes you as a teacher. When you have a kid who’s struggled in school, you’re a totally different teacher.
Me in my first year is entirely different than me in year eight [here at Christ King].
You went to DSHA, and your daughters are there now. Your children also attended Christ King. What is it about Catholic education that keeps you coming home?
As a teacher, I love the freedom given. As a Catholic, I love that we start and end each day in prayer and reflection. We are also able to draw on our faith as we work with kids in their academic and personal growth as students and people.
What do you love about Christ King?
I asked all the teachers, why do you stay? And the number one reason that all these teachers that I work with said is the community. At a K-8 school, by eighth-grade year, sometimes you need a new group, but there’s something to be said that knowing that this is your family and these people have your back, no matter what. You really get to know people. We have so many teachers that go to Mass on the weekends here. It’s truly a seven-day-a-week community.
How have you clarified your purpose?
I feel like you start questioning: why am I here? What’s my purpose? I think (as) my overarching mission, and in every single thing I do, I ask, “Does it help people?” If it’s not helping people, then why am I doing it? So, it’s kind of what I ask myself (about) what I’m going to do: If I say yes to this, will it help people? Then I’m in.