The question I often hear isn't always the same, but runs along this basic line, "What made you want to be a teacher?" Some times this is in reference to the low pay or more frequently because I went into secondary education and no one can figure out why I would want to work with teenagers. To answer that question, I have some of the more typical responses about how I like working with kids (they're actually pretty funny) and I that I want to do something challenging where the day is never the same. Depending on who is asking the question, you may get one of those responses, especially if you were one of my professors filling out an evaluation. If you really want to know . . . just read on.
When I was in the eighth grade I had my first volunteer experience at the Christa McAliffe Space Education Center in Pleasant Grove. I had been attending the center on field trips, private flights, and summer camps since the sixth grade. Before then I had posthumously experienced them through my older brother when he would come back and set off my imagination with the stories from his visits. My volunteer visit evolved from an occasional one to a steady weekly attendance. I like to think that it was because I did such a good job, but it also helps that no one liked doing the stuff I had to do. Over the years I worked my way up the volunteering ladder and eventually became a paid employee. From start to finish I spent six years of weekends, summers, and the occasional evening private flight at the space center.
There was something unique about how one felt at the space center and I deduced that it was somehow related to teaching. To test the idea I earned a bachelors degree in Social Studies Composite from Utah State University. So far I haven't been disappointed with my hypothesis about teaching bringing that similar feeling the space center did. You see, whenever the students would enter into a simulator I ran, they offered me a challenge. I had to keep their attention, try to teach them something, and most importantly help them succeed. With teaching, it is the same in my eyes. Instead of a roaring cheer at the end of a mission as the ship sails safely away, I have the "ah ha" moments when students finally catch onto some new concept or recognize how a calculation works. It is a wonderful feeling that I haven't found anywhere else.
In a nutshell, this is my reason for teaching. I suppose I am sort of greedy. With the help of the community I hope to start up this space education center for the purpose of satisfying my needs. I need to hear fifteen students cheering at the top of their lungs after narrowly avoiding death. I need to watch as a shy stuttering boy steps up to his role as the ambassador of a starship and gains the praise of his classmates. I need to help students know that they can succeed at anything and experience what it is like. For all this to happen I need to have the support of the community to give the students in our area a chance to experience something amazing.