Given the recent cutbacks in education, I often get quizzical looks when I tell people I’m currently pursuing an elementary education degree.  I completely understand.  After all, I know it’s a challenging time to become a teacher.  For instance, I currently live in Philadelphia. Here, the city’s school district recently eliminated over 1,200 teaching positions and the possibility of more district wide cuts is looming in the future.  Similar cut backs have been occurring all across the United States. Our country’s education system is crumbling under the weight of our state and national debts and, quite frankly, I find myself questioning my decision to become a teacher on a daily basis.
So, why then do I continue on this path?  Honestly? It’s because I care.  It’s because I want to leave a positive impact on this world.  I’ve spent a lot of time mulling over how I can leave my mark.  I’m not looking for fame or fortune, in my mind that’s all irrelevant in the grand scheme of things.  I just want to DO something to positively impact our society, because sitting back and doing nothing just seems wasteful.  I’ve considered the best way to address many of our societal concerns and time and again I return to education.  It is my belief that through education we have the potential to really create and guide the path we’d like our society to follow.
Of course, this brings me to why I am pursuing a career in elementary education and not secondary or higher education.  Truthfully, it was my experience as an employee at Strong Women, Strong Girls that led me down this path. Through SWSG I learned elementary school children, especially girls, are at a stage in their life where their attitude towards school and their future goals are very malleable—even more so than their older peers. However, as they reach middle school and come across more challenges, academically and socially, they are at risk or losing many of their former aspirations and developing low self-esteem.  A strong foundation for their aspirations and self-esteem earlier in life can keep these things from crumbling as students begin to face the challenges of adolescence.  After learning this I realized how important it is that elementary school students have mentors in their life who will try to raise their self-esteem and aspirations, as well as, instill a passion for life-long learning and service to the community.  Aside from a student’s guardians, who could be more perfect for this task than a teacher?
Strong Women, Strong Girls does a great job at accomplishing this task, but a student would benefit even more if they were consistently exposed to this type of nurturing atmosphere.  I want to become an elementary school teacher because I want to bring the core values of Strong Women, Strong Girls into the classroom.  A classroom that encourages determination, goal-setting, life-long learning, good communication, and critical thinking, as well as, embraces the unique talents and abilities of every child is a classroom that will produce the future leaders of tomorrow.  So, despite the challenges that lie ahead for me, I know that it will all be worth it in the end.  Going forward, I know the tools and values I learned from Strong Women, Strong Girls will help me make a difference in the world by becoming a great teacher.
Written by Sarah Goetz, former SWSG PULSE fellow