This past weekend, I had the opportunity to present at my Alma mater, Northern Illinois University for the Student Education Association. The topic was "Patriotism in the Classroom", a topic that is very near and dear to my heart because I am a Veteran.
I guess this would be a good time to share my story of how I became who I am today....A kindergarten teacher on a mission to teach children to be good people and to respect themselves, others and the country that they live in.
It all started when I was 5 years old. I had four dreams: To be a teacher, to be in the Army, to travel to Germany and to be on TV.
Well, each of those dreams have already come true during my life.
I was on TV when my grade school was closing down back in 1989. The local TV station came to shoot video of the students and the school...I happened to be playing 4-square in front of the cameras! Not exactly what I had dreamed as far as being on TV (I was thinking more of a talk show) but it would do.
Then in 1996 I went into the recruiters office and told them " I WANT TO JOIN NOW"! Their response, "We would love to have you, but you are too young. You can't join until you are 17 and you will need your parents permission." So that is exactly what I did! I waited until I was 17, got permission from my parents and joined the Army Reserves. I went to basic training between my junior and senior year of high school and then to my job training right after my senior year. I served 9 years in the Army Reserves as an Ammunition Specialist. Throughout my time there I was able to fulfill another one of my dreams by traveling to Germany for some training. Now the only dream I had left to fulfill! To be a teacher. While I was in the Army Reserves, I attended college. My major: Elementary Education.
While I was attending college, working full-time and attending drill once a month, I knew in the back of my mind that there was chance that I would be deployed. After September 11, 2001, the thought of deployment quickly came to the front of my mind. I thinking to myself...just let me get through this year. Then it was...just let me get through the my clinicals...then...just let me get through student teaching...then...just let me get through graduation. I managed to make it through all of those things without being deployed. I ended up graduating from Northern Illinois University in December 2003, the same month that I got engaged. Our wedding was planned for July 2004. So you can imagine that my next thought was...please let me just get through my wedding! Ten days before my wedding, I was sent to SRP (Soldier Readiness Processing) to make sure that I had everything in order for deployment. I thought I was going to have to postpone my wedding. But, the good Lord was with me and our wedding went on a scheduled.
I got married on July 17, found out at the beginning of August that I would be deploying September 9. I wouldn't even be married for 2 months and I would be leaving for 15 months! I was so sad but yet I knew that this is what I had signed up for and it was what I had always wanted to do.
I left home, traveled to Missouri where I was put in a unit made up of people from 26 different states. There were only about 7 people that I actually knew from my home unit. We trained in the United States for a couple of months and then headed over to Kuwait and then Iraq. I worked in my field of ammunition for the first few weeks that we were deployed and then I was put into a new position. I was made the training NCO for our company. I was in charge of scheduling trainings and teaching classes to our unit during deployment. I was excited because this was right up my alley...it was what I had gone to school for! And it was something I could add to my resume for experience! So, I spent the next year in the desert, training soldiers. I also was able to be the mail clerk, which allowed me to make fellow soldier's days by delivering their packages! During the course of deployment, I was also a tower guard, where I was in a tower along the perimeter of our base where we were to guard the base and watch for enemy activity.
Upon my return home, it was quite an adjustment. I had transition back into the civilian world and had to get used to a new routine again. I even got the chance to begin my relationship all over again. It was fun, yet trying at the same time. We grew and changed apart for a whole year so there was a lot to learn about each other again.
I got home in November and was ready to begin my career that I had worked so hard for. I began substitute teaching that second semester and applied for a Kindergarten position soon after. I found out in February that I had been HIRED!!! I was going to be a Kindergarten teacher! My final dream from when I was a child had come true!
|Kindergarten teachers on the 100th day of school!|
I have since gotten out of the Army and have been a kindergarten teacher for the past 6 years. I LOVE my job and can't imagine doing anything different!
NOW...Back to my presentation on "Patriotism in the Classroom"...I have always try to instill a sense of patriotism into my colleagues and my students by doing special projects. But last year when I was at the Illinois reading conference, I met someone who inspired me to do more, to do MUCH more! Her name: Debbie Clement. She is the Author of the book "Red, White and Blue". You can see us and the book in the picture below! Her book/song was heaven sent, as was she! She inspired me to do projects, she inspired me to start writing as part of a collaborative blog at Pre-K and K Sharing, then eventually my own blog and she inspired me to be WONDERFUL and MAGICAL...her words exactly from another book she wrote!
To see how much Debbie and her book/song inspired me, click on the picture below and read the series of articles she wrote last year after we met!
THIS IS MY STORY....THE STORY OF DREAMS COMING TRUE...AND INSPIRATION!