During my time off this summer, I’ve tried cooking and baking more often.  I enjoy cooking and don’t necessarily have the energy during the school year to do so, and it also is a great stress relief.  The past 6 months have been a time filled with challenges and personal growth as I’ve rediscovered who I am, started standing up for myself and my beliefs, and realized what makes me happy.  Just like a recipe, I’ve reflected on and put together all the ingredients that make up me and have focused on my newfound strengths: determination, perseverance, resilience, and passion.

During my journey, certain people I came across in my life acted as metaphorical rocks trying to push me down.  I continuously looked for ways to push back, show my strength, and tried to focus on everything that was going right.  I leaned on friends and family for support and relied on their words of encouragement to keep me going.  I looked for things that made me happy and smile everyday, whether it be a funny story from one of my students, exercising, watching tv, or taking a walk in the fresh air outside.  Focusing on the positives and what made me happy helped give me the energy and courage to keep going.  Slowly, I climbed higher up my mountain, got rid of the rocks, and began smiling and enjoying the world around me.

Part of the struggle was looking for a new job where I felt I could share, contribute, and become an active part of the school community.  Every interview, I would get my hopes up and excited about the possibility, only to have my hopes crushed with rejection.  I knew somehow the puzzle pieces would fall into place, but it was frustrating waiting for that to happen.  Reading articles on Twitter and conversing with other educators helped me realize I do have good ideas to share and there are people who have similar beliefs in education as me in terms of teaching philosophies and creating respectful and passionate school communities; this gave me hope that somewhere was a place I felt I belonged.  Over time, it became harder to push myself to keep going.  I talked with others for advice and improved my communication skills, but still didn’t have anything to show for my hard work.  Somehow, the resilience stayed strong and I continued moving forward.  I stayed busy by doing other activities, hanging out with friends, attending a fellowship, and traveling.  I tried my hardest to stay in the moment and enjoy life’s journey.

Through these activities, I continued learning about myself.  The fellowship helped me realize I have a lot to offer to others, and I want to share my passion to educate others to be compassionate and tolerant and tell their own stories.  I joined the Executive Board of Windy City Pi Phi to become a more involved member.  I ran and completed my first 10K.  I renewed and strengthened friendships, both new and old.  Focusing on these aspects helped me realize I have a lot of positives going for me and my self-confidence soared.

Now, I can finally say the pieces have fallen into place.  I officially have a job for this school year and cannot wait to be a classroom assistant for first grade.  I am looking for ward to new challenges, collaborating with new staff, and continuing to grow as a person and educator.

Thank you to everyone-my family, friends, and others I’ve connected with who continually supported and encouraged me, provided feedback and suggestions, and introduced me to other connections.  I am so lucky to have a strong support group who truly cares about me.

As the school year begins and I’ve realized my strengths and the ingredients that make up me, I’m reminded that every student comes to school with his/her own unique story.  I cannot wait to meet and learn about all the new first graders and be able to share in their learning celebrations and growths this year.

happens for reason