Your life’s passion has a way of finding you, but not in the way you would have ever expected it to. A career in Education never crossed my thoughts, yet looking back the seeds were slowly being sown without my realizing it.
I am a first-generation teacher in my family. I grew up during the turbulent Lebanese civil war. My earliest recollections of school were of being ushered onto the floor of a school bus with classmates under heavy shelling and transported to my teacher’s house for safety until my parents could arrive to pick me up. My teacher risked her life and opened up her home to protect her students, actions which stay with me to this day.
My family immigrated to Canada shortly after and I entered the educational system as an ESL student. I vividly remember working one-on-one with a dedicated teacher who brought out the love of the English language in me. Her persistence created a student who not only excelled in English but devoured books and wrote in journals at every opportunity.
Three more inspirational educator role models soon followed.
My fourth grade teacher who fostered an atmosphere of culture in her classroom and encouraged her students to learn about the world around them. I never felt more welcomed and proud of my heritage then when I was sharing with my classmates that year.
My eighth grade teacher who despite his very strict demeanour, only wanted the absolute best from his students. He pushed me to revise and edit absolutely everything I submitted to him to ensure the highest quality of my work. He taught me that easy isn’t necessarily best and to continually strive for more. Lessons which I apply to everything in life.
Then came my family’s transitional move back to Lebanon at the start of tenth grade. I entered an international American high school while juggling the cultural differences that surrounded me. I had a deep love for sports and was on the cross-country, track and field, soccer and basketball teams prior to our move, all of which did not exist beyond physical education classes at my new school. The exception was soccer but even then it was a boys-only team. I was determined to start a basketball and soccer team. and so I approached the coach with my ideas. He saw the fierce determination in a teenager whose passion for sports came through in everything she did, so he allowed me to put my plans into action. That year saw the creation of the first girl’s basketball team, and the first time a girl (me) played on the boy’s soccer team. The creation of a girl’s soccer team followed the next year. That educator showed me that I was capable of anything I put my mind to and that nothing is impossible if you really want it.
I moved by myself back to Ontario, Canada for university and planned on becoming a journalist to assist in writing the stories of others. I delved in and became a news editor for the university paper while interning at the city newspaper and a local public relations company. I was achieving the goals I had set out for myself, fuelled by the educational mentors who showed me the strength I had. I graduated and began in a corporate and internal communications position with an international corporation. I enjoyed the writing, interviewing, event-planning and travelling, but something was missing.
One day a friend mentioned that a co-worker was looking for an English tutor for her struggling fifth grade daughter. I immediately volunteered even though I hadn’t tutored anyone before. It only took one tutoring session and I immediately knew what I was looking for all along. Working with that student brought a sense of joy and meaning to my life like I had never experienced. Everyday I would look for ways to engage and connect her with her learning and soon realized that it was the one thing I looked forward to all week.
At that same time, my personal life was in transition and an opportunity to move to Alberta came about. I took a chance on the move and made sure to apply to both the Education program at the University of Alberta and public relations job positions. I told myself whichever works out was meant to be, and before I knew it, I was a student pursuing my B.Ed.
I’ve been an elementary teacher now for three years and though the journey was bumpy and unexpected, it’s allowed me to connect to what I love most which is working with amazing children and helping to foster their passions and strengths.
I laugh, love, and learn every day.