Wife to my high school sweetheart, boy mama to sweet baby boy Macrae, and two fur babies Shiloh and Milo, a full time high school history teacher, and overall enthusiast for life. Avid podcast listener, iced coffee drinker, and organized chaos manager. My passion is to encourage and inspire. To cultivate an intentional life, a life full of joy and an abundance of grace.
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Let me begin by saying, I believe in the power of education. I believe in learning and challenge. I believe in educators and I believe in students. My name is Haley and I am a high school teacher. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have shared the classroom with hundreds, maybe even a close to a thousand of students over the course of my six years teaching high school history! The teaching industry can be one that is met with quite a lot of challenge, equally masked with immense feelings of under-appreciation and overworked burdens., However, I consider myself very, very lucky. I found a school, a dream school, where I truly have seen my heart grow immensely over the past six years, pouring everything I have and more into the lives of every single individual who has walked through the doors of my classroom. And while I have always known my role as educator and all of them, every single one of them and their role as students has meant so, SO much to my heart, it was not until recently, as I read Educated, by Tara Westover, that I decided to take a few minutes and write down all my thoughts.
I would assume as you read the heading above you would purposefully think this is where I would dive into the never-ending list of all the responsibilities teaching entails. This is where the monologue of constant “I need to do this, etc.” begins. However, this is not that note. Instead, this note is all about the true joy and opportunity I experience every single day in the classroom with the most gifted kids. Because here is the thing. Every single student, every single person has specific gifts, talents and qualities that they have been equipped with. Equipped with for life. And it’s the job of the educators, the coaches, the mentors to fine tune and call out to those traits, those qualities and help allow them to develop to their exact potential. And even though these moments are just small moments in the journey of it all, these moments are so powerful.
And every single day, I get the privilege of partaking in that journey. The journey that every single student embarks on, whether they really realize it or not, the journey of self-discovery and fate as they find their path to destiny. Oh my goodness, the heart is beating faster as I type, which is why I know my heart belongs in a classroom, the revelation of the power of just how important the role of every educator is, but not just for educating. There is more!
Because the real joy is found through them. The students. The ones that I learn so much from. The ones that I am always inspired by. The ones who always, without even meaning it, find a way to lead me to continue to dream and grow, to continue to learn, through the power of education. And sometimes, I feel like society can take for granted just what this all means. We as humans are so quick to judge generations as a whole, leadership as a whole, institutions as a whole, forgetting the power of one, the power of the individual. Yet, I see it in the classroom every single day. Students who choose each other, students who choose to believe in something bigger, something greater!
I feel as if my appreciation of my career and industry that I am in, has evolved into a deeper level of appreciation over the last few days as I have read (and listened to with a big THANK YOU to Audible) Educated by Tara Westover. A New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Boston Globe Bestseller and ranked top novel of the year, the story is written by Tara herself as she recounts her childhood and her quench for creating her own education. Her story is remarkable, her voice, incredible. In a society where we take so much for granted. Her story reminds us that the most powerful things in life, are the things within us, and our job in this world is to dive on in and use them for GOOD and to not let anything or anyone stand in your way. And on the note of education, years ago, I wrote a letter expressing my feelings to my students, and I thought there was no better time than now to share the publicly. All for the power of education.
If there is only one thing you take away from this class, this semester, it is for you to know how cared you are. It is for you to know and fully understand how important your life is. You matter. Your thoughts matter. Your ideas matter. Your dreams matter. Your vision matters. The way that you perceive the world and the place that you hope it becomes one day matters. You have the potential for greatness. You have the ability inside of you to rise above any obstacle, any challenge placed before you. You have the power, you have the strength to be victorious in any situation. You are intelligent. You are brave. You are courageous. The way that you see things is important. Every single one of you has a gift, and you are going to use it in really big ways. I am so proud of each and every one of you. I am so honored, so blessed to be able to share a room with you five days a week, 18 weeks a semester. I get the absolute privilege of watching as you grow, as you take challenges, and overcome them. As you push yourselves and achieve the goals set before you. I want you to walk away from this class, knowing that you are a warrior, that you are a fighter. That you will never give up, that you will always persevere, constantly fighting for the good in the world. Be the best possible version of yourself. Never stop working until you reach your goal. If you fail, try again. If you feel defeated, just look at yourself in the mirror, and fully take in the person that you are, the person that you will become. This life is a great one, it can be tough, challenging at times, it will make you sweat, it will definitely make you cry, but what is so neat, is that even through the rough, there always is good ahead. And it’s that good that makes everything worthwhile.
If I could ask one thing of you, it is to never stop believing in yourself, to never stop seeing the good in the world, to never stop going out of your way to help others. Work hard, work harder than you ever have in your life. Push yourself, challenge yourself, take a step out of your comfort zone, it’s the moments when you take a step out of your comfort zone that the growing begins.
You are important. Your life matters. You are awesome. I am so, so proud of you. My heart beats a little faster as I write this, because I am so confident that you are going to end up exactly where you are supposed to. Your life has a purpose, and you will get there. You are destined for greatness, and it will happen. Believe in yourself, work harder than ever, and stay positive. I am always here for you and I always will believe in you.
Whoever you are, reading this post, I hope it leaves you with this: you matter. Your voice matters. You have a purpose and it is immensely good. So have passions and interests, and stay immensely interested in the things that make your heart beat. Encourage. Encourage others as much as you can. Speak up, your voice matters and cares for good. Live intentionally, live with purpose, and believe in the impact that you are worthy of creating.