While the stereotypical high school senior is excited to graduate and move on from their school, many South seniors are exceptions to this rule. Instead of striving to pursue careers away from the school environment, they aim to return as educators. Of 329 seniors surveyed in an unscientific Oracle-conducted survey, 22 say that they plan to major in education or an education-related field.
According to senior Natalie Paulson, who plans to either teach middle school or to become a school psychologist, education is about much more than the subjects traditionally taught in school. She says students need to be taught what to expect in the real world.
“There’s so much more than what’s taught in the four walls of a classroom,” Paulson said. “[…] And if I can get across the point to kids that they can do and be whatever they want, then that opens up so many more opportunities than they can even imagine.”
Similarly to Paulson, senior Rebecca Spector, who plans to teach high school English, wants to become a teacher because she has always wanted to pursue a career in the service of of others.
“I’ve always grown up with the background of wanting to help people somehow, whether it was [is through being] a psychologist or a school social worker,” Spector said. “At some point, [it] just came down to a point where I fell in love with reading and writing and English in general, and I felt like I wanted to help [teach] kids who [need extra help with literacy].”
Spector also says that the opportunities at South, as well as the teachers she has had, have influenced her goals. According to Spector, she began taking child development classes at South because she wanted to teach elementary students, but she eventually changed her mind.
“I realized that the impact I wanted to make [on my students] needed more of a mature student,” Spector said.
According to Spector, teachers at South, such as English teacher Debbie Cohen, inspired her because of the way she was able to connect to students and bring passion into the subject she was teaching.
“I think Mrs. Cohen really inspired me […] because I think that was just a year of creativity for me in English,” Spector said. “And it was just always such a fun class to be in, and we did different activities, and it wasn’t […] really a boring class to me. I just really enjoyed it, and I think she was a big part of that, in finding a way to make it interesting. And [she had] an open personality [and] a humor that made her welcome kids more.”
Similarly to Spector, senior Mary Grace Noteman wants to become a teacher because of inspiration she received from South teachers.
“I think the teachers here have turned me around in thinking that teaching is something you can do not only as a career, but as something that you love,” Noteman said.
Senior Ethan Reiss wants to become a high school music teacher for similar reasons to Noteman and Paulson. For him, the music classes he has taken have greatly impacted his high school journey.
“I’ve had such a wonderful experience, and I know with a lot of people and a lot of places, that’s not necessarily the case,” Reiss said. “As a music teacher, I want to be able to give those same experiences [back], like life lessons and being a good role model.”
Paulson says that while becoming a teacher may not be the most lucrative career, its impact makes it one of the most honorable professions someone can take on. Spector echoes that sentiment.
“When I tell people I want to be a teacher, some just look at me and say they think I can do more,” Spector said. “What they don’t realize is that being a teacher is one of the most important jobs I could have. I am teaching our future leaders at their most vulnerable point, and if someone fails to understand that importance, then they’ve failed to recognize the impact their teachers have had on them.”