My sixth grade linguistics teacher, Mrs. Panek, gave me a love of the English language and of teaching. I loved everything about her: she was pretty, she was nice, she had beautiful handwriting, and she was in love with the English language and teaching as well. I began to idolize her and wanted to be just like her. In order to pass our sixth grade English class, we had to memorize the eight parts of speech and be able to identify them in a sentence. In order to do that, she taught us how to diagram sentences. I just seemed to have a knack for this and enjoyed it so much that, if my friends couldn’t come out to play, I would go to the library and diagram sentences for fun! What a nerd I was. We also had to memorize all of the state-of-being verbs and linking verbs. Another thing that Mrs. Panek made us do that we absolutely HATED was to give a different kind of speech (from memorization) in front of the class each month. We did advertising speeches, campaign speeches, pantomimes, as well as speeches where we learned to outline our material on notecards. I remember being so afraid to get up in front of the class to speak, but I think this was one of the best things Mrs. Panek could have taught us. How many times later in my life would I need to speak in front of a crowd? Now I can give speeches without fear knowing that my tone will be even, my eye contact good and my voice neither too loud nor too soft, too fast nor too slow. And Mrs. Panek and my love of linguistics also helped me in the business world. Because I could speak and write well, most of my colleagues thought I was more educated than I really was! It was during this year that I decided that I loved linguistics and wanted to teach. Years later I entered college very excited about making my dream come true. However, after one year of college, I ran out of money and my dream was put on a shelf. Ten years later I pulled that dream back off the shelf and went back to school. But juggling school, work and a new marriage proved to be more than I was willing to do, so I put my dream back on the shelf. Life continued…….I got divorced, remarried, had a family, and raised my children. When my kids were finally in school full time I thought about going back to work. However, the workforce had changed and without a degree I could no longer earn good money. As I thought about it I looked up on that shelf and saw my dream. If I have to go back to school in order to get a good-paying job, why don’t I finish what I started 29 years ago? I applied to a college near my home and began classes and I am proud to say that in 2012 I will graduate with my BS in Education and finally be fulfilling that life long dream that began so long ago.

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