Reaching back to my earliest thoughts about becoming a teacher, I would say that the influence of my mother and inspiration of many wonderful instructors are what caused me to initially think about and later pursue a teaching career. They instilled in me a love for learning and a commitment to the value of lifelong learning that have been the driving forces in my own teaching career.

Both of my parents valued education greatly and instilled this in me as well. My mother, in particular, guided me in the direction of teaching by her own example as she taught me things at home from the time I was a very small child. Once I entered school my mother ensured that I developed a sense of responsibility for my own work and assignments and helped build my self-esteem through encouragement and caring. Of equal importance, she also taught by example a great respect for the teachers providing me with my education.

As I went through school, I had many wonderful instructors who had a great influence on my life and career decision. They provided an example and inspiration that no words could match and generated in me a motivation for learning that caused me to seriously think about wanting to do the same for others. I admired the dedication and knowledge held by these teachers, as well as the manner in which they were able to convey the material to students. I hoped to someday be able to do the same.

Once I entered the teaching profession, I continued to grow and learn as I looked for resources and models of teaching excellence provided by outstanding peers. Early in my career, my attention was particularly captured by a peer who seemed to be able to generate a great amount of respect, diligence and motivation from her students. Watching her closely caused me to analyze my own ideas and methods and refine them to the level of teaching that I so wanted to reach.

I bring to the profession a style of teaching that combines knowledge, caring, commitment, high expectations, acceptance of individual differences and an honest belief in the abilities of students. My own excitement for what I do challenges me to seek out the best methods and activities to meet the individual needs of my students. I regularly evaluate my effectiveness through self-evaluation, student achievement and both parental and peer feedback. I am aware that my teaching must adjust as needed to reflect the differing needs of students and research findings about education.

I feel a tremendous sense of pride and accomplishment when I see my students utilize a skill that they previously couldn't; see them get so excited about a topic that they come in the next day with an armful of library books they've found because their interest was piqued; have parents come in and tell me that their child went home and talked to them about the unit we were involved in; or get a "high five" from a student who has finally caught on to a concept, happily announcing, "Now I've got it! This is fun!" Then I know that I have made a difference in the lives of children.

Children need to realize that learning can be fun and exciting and each should feel important, worthwhile and successful. When children leave my class they take with them knowledge and memories that should make them want to continue learning throughout their lives.

I have made a difference when I have done everything in my power for every student within my care to educate them and instill in them a love of learning. My contribution to education is and will continue to be my absolute determination and commitment to lifelong learning.

"One of my greatest responsibilities as an educator is to prepare students for the roles they will play in the future by helping them develop their own unique talents and abilities. We must provide students with the skills and tools for obtaining knowledge they will use throughout their life."

Mary Elizabeth Hetter
Mary Elizabeth Hetter
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