I was a bit shy and very quiet when I was a child, especially in school. I had a huge fear of having the wrong answer, asking a question others might think is dim, or coming up with a silly idea .

Throughout my years in school, college, and beyond, I have had teachers and mentors along the way that were powerful conquerors of that fear. A middle school teacher who would call on students at random and help them figure out the answer if they didn’t already have it; a high school student government sponsor who encouraged brainstorming and creative thinking and who would support just about any idea that had a well thought out plan attached; a college residence life advisor who challenged students to step out of their comfort zone and supported them along the way.

These and other individuals helped me learn to be confident in myself, to cultivate my talents, and most importantly, how to do the same for others. This is, in part, why I began my career as a teacher: I had a passion to help children reach their full potential. I worked as hard as I could to create a learning environment where they felt safe to express themselves, where they could be active learners, and where they had opportunities to be leaders. And, while for some of my students, I can proudly say I made a difference… even if just a small one, but for others I’m not so sure. Many of the students I taught faced so many hurdles to being successful in school. I find myself wondering how we can make sure that ALL children have access to the opportunities they deserve.

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