Write an essay where you tell us about the moment you realized you wanted to become a teacher.

I have been told many times in my life that I would make a wonderful teacher, but I never actually believed it. In each of my classes I have observed the stress of teaching and entertaining the minds of students, and I knew that was something that would be difficult. Two years ago, my family was introduced to a whole new world when we were told L probably has autism. The first thing I did was begin to research and attempt to understand what this meant for L and for us as a family. I cannot begin to explain how much L has affected my view of the world and the people around me. I learned how everyone, whether we know it or not, is a teacher. Seeing the impact that I have on my nephew’s education completely changed my view on what goes into being a teacher. I saw the happiness and excitement that he gets when he learns something new, and this joy is what motivated me to become a teacher.
Soon after my decision to become a teacher, I began volunteering at RISE. This was another experience that changed my life. Seeing how the teachers include students with and without disabilities in one classroom and the benefits for all of the students was amazing. During my time spent there, I really enjoyed working with all of the students and being a part of their education. I love how the curriculum can be changed to best help each student learn. In the classroom they look past the disability and see the person and their potential, and that is how I want to model my teaching. Too often we look only on the outside, and we never see the person past the disability. After working with these students and seeing their faces light up when they experience something new, I could not imagine teaching in a general education classroom where there is little inclusion. I believe that students with disabilities need role models in their lives who will be their advocate and will push them to stand up for themselves. I want to be the person that students know sees them for who they are.

Leanne from Alabama
College Junior
The University of Alabama