Saturday, August 1, 2015

On How I Became a Teacher

“The two most important days of your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why.” –Mark Twain

During my childhood, like many little girls, I enjoyed playing teacher.  I loved the feel of the chalk on the small blackboard and imitating my instructors.  Growing up with a little sister who was eight years younger than me also gave way to many teachable moments.

In high school, I was often called upon to help my classmates with their assignments, especially in English.  It brought me great joy knowing I was helping others.  One of them even wrote in my yearbook senior year, “I will pray you do not end up a TEACHER!”  
“Don’t worry,” I thought, “that will never happen.”

My grandmother,
Rosario de la Paz Rios,
was a teacher.
Being a teacher seemed too easy.  Too predictable.  My mother and father were teachers, as well as my grandparents.  I was familiar with the good, bad and ugly of the profession and had no interest in taking part.

When I chose to attend Central College in Pella, Iowa, the state’s welcome sign read, “Welcome to Iowa:  Fields of Opportunities.”  The world was my oyster with infinite possibilities!

My grandfather, Rafael Rios,
is a retired teacher and coach.
The summer after my freshman year, I participated in a lingual cultural exchange in Yinchuan, China, for six weeks.  While there, we lived with Chinese university students.  During the day, they taught us about Chinese culture and language, and we in turn taught them about American life.  I was in charge of the lesson on American Literature, and checked out a few books from the library before going abroad.

The day of our English lesson, I talked about Dr. Seuss and his influence on children’s literature.  When I was done, I read his book, What Was I Scared Of?, aloud to the classroom.  In the style of my childhood educators, I would turn the book around and show the picture to the audience after every couple of pages.  About halfway through the book, I looked out into the audience and they were complete silent.  You could hear a pin drop.  They were completed captivated by this kids’ story!  I looked around and immediately thought, “This is it.  This is what I want to do with the rest of my life.”

I always enjoyed reading aloud to my classroom (2008).
And that was all it took.  My whole heart had been changed in one moment.  The international flight back to the States gave me much time to pray and reflect.  When the fall 2001 semester rolled around, I confidently declared my major to my advisor:  Elementary Education.

I believe sometimes we choose things, and other times, they choose us.  Teaching chose me.


  1. . . .sometimes you inspire those around you that don't quite realize it themselves.

    1. Thank you, Ilsa. I truly appreciate your words of encouragement.