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What makes a good teacher?
The answer is simple. A good teacher knows the importance of creating a desire for life long learning. A good teacher knows the value of an education.

My Story
I didn’t grow up wanting to become a teacher. I had no interest in school and no desire to go to college. Both my grandmothers and my mother were all stay-at-home moms. There was no talk about my future and what I may want to do after I graduated high school. I had no idea what college was like or why I should go. I was taught that it was bad to be a working mom because then I would be tired all the time like the single moms we knew. I would grow up, get married, and have kids, that was my role…I was female.

I remember having a friend in high school who always had good grades. If she didn’t get A’s she would stress because, “her parents would kill her.” When we were juniors she became very excited about going to college and she’d pull a giant book from the library shelf that listed all the colleges across the U.S. She’d pour over the book trying to find the perfect school. I couldn’t understand. College? Why would I want to spend four more years on schoolwork? Her behavior intrigued me.

My Senior year I decided to at least go on one college tour to see what it was all about. I flew by myself to Pittsburgh and found my way to Point Park College. It didn’t go well. I was alone in an empty dorm. It was nothing like the college tours I’ve seen today. I left knowing college was not for me.

At eighteen I moved to Manhattan to become an actress. At nineteen I moved to Los Angeles to become an actress. Two months before I turned twenty I met Eric and at twenty-two I was pregnant, alone, and frightened. I was the manager of an apartment building in Los Angeles realizing for the first time the importance of an education. It was the scariest time in my life because I had no idea how I would support myself or my child which despite the advice of others…I was keeping.


It had never occurred to me that I could be in such a situation. My family was embarrassed. Eric who is an incredible father, was at the time, scared out of his mind. Luckily, I had been saving money because I wanted an African Gray parrot. Strange but true. My savings went towards well baby visits in Santa Monica where I had two young female doctors helping me. I remember being envious of them. They weren’t that much older than I was and our lives were so different. I wondered what brought them to their path? They appeared to have it all together while I was falling apart.

Eventually, Eric moved in with me and the two of us decided we were going to be the best parents we could be.  My family offered us/Eric money to marry me. That’s how much of an embarrassment we were. Eric turned them down stating he didn’t need a piece of paper to prove his love. At the time, I didn’t understand because we had so little and we were bringing a child into the world. Now, I couldn’t be more proud of him for not taking the money.


While Eric and I dealt with the uncertainty of our future something changed within me. For the first time in my life I craved knowledge. I started reading. When Eric and I began dating he would have to drag me into bookstores. It was one of his favorite places and he’d spend a long time browsing. I dreaded it! When I became pregnant it all changed. Suddenly, I needed to know everything that was happening to me and the baby. I was particularly interested in brain development.  The joy of reading had finally found me. I no longer dreaded bookstores; in fact, they become my solace.

Even though we agreed instantly on a girl’s name, I was convinced we were having a boy, so much so, that when the doctor told me I had an Arielle…I was shocked. Not disappointed–frightened. Looking back, I was scared to have a girl. I didn’t want her to be like me– lost and uneducated.

From the day she was born I was determined to educate my daughter. I didn’t care whether she ever got married but I would do everything I could so she would never feel the loneliness, desperation, helplessness, and embarrassment I felt being pregnant and alone. My daughter would have an education and a career.

When Arielle was six months old my grandparents reached out to us and we moved to Cape Coral, Florida. Two and half years later, Eric proposed and we have beautiful pictures of Arielle at our wedding. Then I met an amazing group of strong woman, one of which, always talked about her Woman’s Studies classes in college. Before I decided to become a classroom teacher, I had a chalkboard hanging in our kitchen. Arielle could read at four years-old. After many hours volunteering in Arielle’s elementary school I decided to become a teacher. I put myself through college and when Kai began Kindergarten I had my own small class of ten students.

As the years went by, instead of talking to Arielle about boys we talked about jobs, careers, what she may want to do with her life. Instead of focusing on looks, and fashion we focused on books, discussing multiple intelligences, the arts, building friendships and grades. The day she received her first college acceptance letter I cried.

Now, Arielle is finishing her sophomore year at college and thoroughly enjoying her Woman’s Studies courses.

A good teacher doesn’t have to have a classroom full of students. We are all teachers every time we light a spark in someone that makes them want to learn and grow. Twenty years ago I lit that spark in Arielle. Now, I’m the one that learns when she calls me and tells me about a good book she’s read or a new topic she’s discovered. I must continue to educate myself to keep up with her.

Here is an example of a great teacher. He knows the value of education. When asked what he did to teach his daughter to be so brave and outspoken– In his words:  “Don’t ask me what I did. Ask me what I did not do. I did not clip her wings.” Ziauddin Yousafzai