Tuesday, September 9, 2008

Speech! Speech! Speech!

Below is the draft I submitted for my speech. Hopefully I won't have to make too many changes!

We all have many names. T. is the one given to me at birth from my parents. Other names include: sister, friend, student, Coach, and my personal favorites, wife and mom. You may be wondering what being a wife and mother of 3 ½ small children have to do with taking classes here at (insert college name). To be quite honest, my husband and children have greatly influenced my decision to pursue my education.

In high school, I applied for and received a full scholarship to attend a local university upon graduation. For personal reasons, I declined the scholarship and instead enlisted in the United States Air Force as an airplane mechanic. To say my family was upset with my decision is an understatement! The September following my high school graduation, I left small town Ohio and headed to Texas for Basic Training, then shortly thereafter I was stationed in California.
I always knew I wanted to be a teacher from a young age. However, it wasn’t until I volunteered with Special Olympics while I was still in high school that I knew I wanted to teach special education. I actually began taking college courses while a senior in high school, but once I left home and joined the Air Force, my college career was put on hold.

I met my husband while in the Air Force, and after we had been married for a little more than 3 years, we welcomed our first child into the world. It was then that the name “teacher” took a more significant role in my life. Prior to having my own children, I did not fully grasp the responsibility that goes along with being a teacher. I understood the importance of being a positive role model, but it was a limited knowledge since I did not have first-hand experience. My son changed all that!

Once I had my own children, I realized the responsibility I had as their mother. Not just in their physical well-being, but in all aspects of their development: social, emotional, spiritual, and educational. If I want my children to grow into responsible adults, I need to model it for them now. There’s an old adage, “Do what I say, not what I do” that many of us have heard and perhaps even said to others. But, we know as educators, that is not the case. Children will emulate what we do because they look up to us and want to be like us; it’s only natural. I want my children to value their education, so of course that means I need to show them the value in education. I really had no choice BUT to go back to school!

Like many other nontraditional students, it has taken me several years to complete this degree in special education. By receiving these scholarships, some of the financial burden that goes with taking courses has been eased. We are grateful for the many opportunities to share our insight as nontraditional students afforded to us from some of our professors, especially those in the COE. And, because of the support received from family, and of course the professors at (insert college name), we will be graduating soon. In graduating, we are modeling many important skills for our children, whether they are in our classrooms or in our homes: the necessity of finishing what one starts; the link between hard work, determination, and success; and to never give up despite the obstacles and challenges that are presented.

Soon, we will be all able to add teacher to our list of names, and that is one that we will hold dear because of the sweat equity that was put into earning it.

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