Wednesday, May 25, 2011

A School Year That Felt Like Two

It's hard to believe this school year ends tomorrow. I was telling Theresa this past school year seems like two different school years. What started off as almost a full semester of demonstration teaching (student teaching) finished with over a semester of substitute teaching. I accomplished a great deal this school year. A lifelong dream of becoming a certified teacher was fulfilled this school year. One benefit of being a bit more experienced is knowing what your passion truly is. I see many teachers in the profession who have been there a long time and so many work hard to do a good job. I don't see as many living their passion and with good reason. It's hard to realize your passion as an 18 year old kid. That is what we ask of teachers in most situations. College for those entering the teaching profession is rigid. There is not a lot of room to find yourself exploring different classes (unless you want to spend tens of thousands of extra dollars and a couple extra years of college). And let's face it, most of us use our 20's and even part of our 30's figuring out who we are and what we want to do. I don't care what profession someone goes into, it seems many change jobs once, twice, or several different times within the first 10 years within their vocation.  I realized I wanted to be a teacher a long time before I actually became one. I am not only certain teaching is what I want to do, but believe it is my calling in life--my passion.

So I have a great deal to be thankful for this school year.  As always, I am thankful for the wonderful life I have made with my wife and children. I love them more than words can describe. I am thankful for the sound foundation of character and integrity I was raised with. And I am thankful for a wonderful staff and students at Moline High School who allowed me to attempt to perfect my teaching skills at their school. Without a doubt, I owe a big thank you to a teacher who opened up his room to me this school year--Trent Lamphier. He is a teacher I wish I could have had in high school and a teacher I was blessed to learn from while finalizing my teacher certification program.

I end the school year with a bit of uncertainty. I am not sure where I will be working at next school year or what I will be doing. I know I will be at a high school doing what I love--working with students. I hope I will have the opportunity to live out the passion I have for teaching in my own classroom, with my own students, and with the content I am passionate about. I know God has greater things in store for me than I know. In the past I have realized the numbers game works against any teacher not yet employed as a contracted teacher--there are more teachers not yet employed than there are positions available. But God has greater things in store for me than I know. I am not yet aware of God's plan for me--I trust in him that his plan is grand and one that is just right for me. So wherever I land next school year--I trust it will be just the right fit for me and where I am supposed to be. And I will share my journey to where that road leads right here with the friends and family who mean a great deal to me. 

School year 2010-2011 you were one unlike any other!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

The Circle of Life

I believe we all have a purpose. My purpose in life is to be the best husband in the world for my loving wife, father in the world to my three awesome children, and it has always been my desire to be the teacher all the students of my school want to have. I am accomplishing the husband and father thing very well!  Now it's my turn to be the social studies teacher students go to their counselor trying to get as their teacher. My teaching philosophy is students will learn when interested and excited about the subject and lesson they are studying. I always ask myself "Would I want to be sitting in my classroom tomorrow if I were a 15 year old student taking part in this lesson?" If I wouldn't be, I'll scrap the lesson and plan for something that is going to spark their interest and engage the student to interact with the lesson. Simply put--my classes are fun and kids learn!

My excitement level was off the radar last night when I saw that my Alma mater, United Township High School, in East Moline, IL has an opening for Social Studies next year. I knew with the state budget crisis, new openings are only happening with retirements of current teachers. The closest retirement at Moline is still several few years away. In the back of my mind I knew one of my teachers at U.T. had to be approaching retirement--Herb Ritter.

Mr. Ritter was my sociology teacher at U.T.  He also was a good friend of my uncle who also taught at U.T. from 1966-1979-John Picco. Anyone who knows me and my family, knows I admired my Uncle John as much as anyone else in this world. He was an AWESOME teacher. Beginning his career as an English and German teacher, John was asked to start the psychology class at U.T. He taught the one and only Psychology class and kept teaching German as well. It didn't take but one semester and students were all wanting to take Mr. Picco's Psychology Class. There were more kids turned away than could take the class. The next year he picked up a few more Psychology classes and fewer German classes. Eventually Psychology was all he taught. He was one of U.T.'s most popular teachers. He sparked the students interest and engaged them to a new higher level of thinking. He loved U.T., his students, and the subjects he taught. The reason I majored in Psychology in college was because of my Uncle John.

So why didn't I major in education while at Western in the 80's? It was a dream I very much wanted to fulfill, but I didn't have the confidence I needed in college. Family persuaded me there were more opportunities in other vocations. In my heart, I knew no vocation would provide the passion I had for teaching. It wasn't until I met and married my wife (an Art teacher with the same passion for the subject she teaches as my Uncle John) that I was truly exposed to education at the vocational level. Once in the classroom, I knew this was my destiny--my calling in life.

Now, after finishing a very demanding and challenging teacher certification program, I am finally certified to teach the subjects and grade level I am passionate about. And with an opening at U.T. I can't help but think "THIS IS FINALLY MY DESTINATION!" It is incredibly hard, no impossible, not to get my hopes up. When I was in high school I absolutely loved U.T. I went to every basketball game, football game, wrestling matches, and admired all my teachers. I knew I was going to be one of them someday.

I remembered tonight Mr. Ritter signed my senior yearbook so I went to our memory chest in our bedroom and pulled out my yearbook which I hadn't looked at in years. I knew exactly where Mr. Ritter signed my yearbook. I went to the yearbook and read his entry. "Chuck, It's been a pleasure knowing you and having you in class. You're a very fine student and young man. Turn out just like Uncle John. Best of Luck, Herb Ritter.

I hope in the next few weeks I turn out more like Uncle John than Mr. Ritter ever could have realized. It is an honor I would cherish forever!