I accidentally became a teacher. I’ve told this story many times, but it’s still true. To be honest, I had a difficult time in college, not so much because of the coursework (although I didn’t graduate a perfect GPA), but because of the COMMITMENT. Choosing a Major was probably the most stressful, agonizing decision of my life (at that point, anyway). It terrified me to think of choosing a degree that would dictate the course of my professional life; therefore, I procrastinated the decision as long as I could.
I finally left General Studies for Rangeland Ecology and Management well into my sophomore year at Texas A&M University, and I only chose that degree because it didn’t require Organic Chemistry-something I knew I wasn’t well equipped. However, I was pleasantly surprised as I progressed in my coursework, and began to love sharing ideas with farmers, ranchers, and would-be environmental policy-makers (that’s where my sights were headed).
Enter my junior year, and I was frustrated at my limited scheduling opportunities of the grand university system, and I chose to take an Honors Educational Psychology class so that I would have the opportunity to register the first day along with seniors. The class would also count as one of those vague “humanities” so I was glad to broaden my horizons. Damn if it didn’t interest the hell out of me! After that semester I used my electives to take the classes that would enable me to teach secondary science. Boom. Double Major. Double Options.
As I applied for student teaching, I also threw in an application for a Congressional Internship in Washington, D.C. I limped through the interview process, and somehow, through the grace of God himself, snagged the last spot available to the freshman congressman Rubén Hinojosa from south Texas. I packed up my stuff, and drove to our nation’s Capitol. Mrs. Scroggins goes to Washington, because, yes, I had just celebrated my one year anniversary (that story is for another time).
After what I can only describe as the most educational semester of my entire college experience, I returned to College Station, Texas to complete my student teaching in 7th grade science. After two vastly different back to back “internships,” I had a decision to make. Do I try for a governmental agency, such as the EPA or do I teach? Both professions provided me the opportunity to “make a difference”—something I desperately in every cell of my body need to do. It came down to the first job offer: 7th grade science in Coppell, Texas.
The rest, as they say, is history. After that first assignment, I taught high school biology, and have since taught 5th grade science, 5th grade math, and elementary gifted and talented. I also acquired a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership, which provides me the opportunity to work with teachers and administrators at another level should that opportunity arise.
Why am I saying this? Well, as you now know, I’m not teaching. Well, not really. In the summer of 2018, my husband and I made a family decision to slow down, and I resigned my teaching post. I chose to spend my waking hours on our home, our children, our dogs, and what we call “the business of our lives.” With (at that time) seven years of children in our home, we felt we were blessed with the opportunity to sacrifice some to gain more.
However, last year I took a long term substitute position teaching Biology, and had the opportunity to teach my freshman. This year, I took a long term substitute position to teach 7th grade language arts, and have the chance to teach my youngest hoodlum. Call it a blessing in disguise, but my children like me to be their teacher. I taught my oldest child 5th grade science, my middle child 5th grade gifted and talented, but my youngest has been saddled with “never having mom as a teacher.” Thank goodness for teachers having babies!! These last two temporary teaching jobs have been so rewarding in two ways: 1-I spent teaching time with my own personal kiddos! It’s really interesting to see how my own children interact with their classmates, and perform academically “first hand.” 2-I remembered why I loved teaching, and also realized I’m darn good at it. I love saying science words—I spent last year saying mitochondria and protein synthesis, and my nerd heart was giddy every single time. This year, my nerd is doing a happy dance teaching subject verb agreement and strong verb usage. Yep. I said it. Happy dances and giddy heart with both things. Also, as I’ve aged, I’ve become better relating to my students, meeting them where they are, and drawing connections for their learning. It’s exciting to see kids learn. Every. Single. Time.
While I may not have set out to become a teacher, I know life has called me to relate, to connect, and to learn. Experience has taught me to observe, to internalize, and to communicate. As I embark on my new storytelling journey, I’m realizing my teacher skills have prepared me to witness to people’s stories—to serve people through teaching their story. I’m still teaching. I’m still learning. I just have a new classroom.
And, I love this classroom, too.