We’re often told that no matter what we plan to do with our lives, following our hearts will never lead us astray. I spend four days out of every week working in some capacity with elementary school students. This is no secret to my friends – whenever I walk down Franklin Street or through the mall with some of my buddies, I can count on being asked whether or not I know the family we just passed. These jokes are always in good fun and not meant to offend, but they do have several effects, including reminding me each time how much time I invest in working with children. I am thankful for my involvement in this community and so, I never let their jokes get to me. This weekend, however, was different.
I was visited on Saturday by family who were only in town for the day. As I navigated our crowd through Chapel Hill, the inevitable conversation regarding my plans after graduation came up. I responded as I do every time by saying that I’ll probably apply to law school but am entirely unsure of anything else. Earlier in the week, though, I applied for Teach for America off of a whim. I shared this with some of my family members, was congratulated, and was then told, “Well, you can always teach for two years to get it out of your system and then go back to law school having taught.”
This comment wasn’t meant to offend me or downplay my passion for education in any way. Its purpose was not to shoot me down or even to make me feel obligated to go to Carolina Law School. Rather, the words that seemed to flow so easily until they hit me like a brick were meant to encourage me to explore different options to truly find where my heart lies. To “get it out of my system.
About a year ago, the number of college students interested in becoming teachers reached an all-time low. This article outlines the specifics of how only 4.2 percent of students planned to teach, including also the ins and outs of why this was the case. I believe comments like the one I was given on Saturday contribute largely to this number. I’ve said numerous times in all of my Education classes how so many people in my life are telling me not to “put myself” through the financial hardships that come from a teacher’s salary. If the people who are passionate about working with children don’t teach, then who will?
Credit: Falling Creek Camp
Tonight I attended a live “wax museum” presentation put on by third graders at Estes Hills Elementary School, and I was so proud to support the students with whom I volunteer. I decided to spend my Monday night at Estes Hills for these students, and I’m planning to go to law school? I am struggling to find my path but what I do know is that I won’t abandon what I’m passionate about just to “get it out of my system.”