Meet Colin: Kindergarten Teacher
First-year kindergarten teacher to 22 students, 9 speak English at home — and Colin is exactly where he wants to be.
"Before, I was working in retail management. And, it just wasn't really my thing, but it paid okay money. So I was okay with it. I just never felt like I was making a difference with anybody."
Colin had been searching for the right career for years. After graduating with a degree in general studies, graduate school was the plan. But, for what? Acting on his New Year’s resolution, he set up a meeting with a renowned university to explore programs related to education – speech therapy, school psychology, and special education.
Then God intervened. "I was driving down the interstate, and I felt like I was being told to get off and stop in at Taylor. Within a half hour, I was talking with Dr. Medows [Director of Licensure Programs]. It was crazy! It all kind of fell into place so quickly for me. It was wonderful! I feel like it was a total God thing."
Colin began his transition to teaching in August, and completed the program 15 months later. At the onset he was still working full-time in retail management. Then, he "got really lucky" by finding a job as an aide in a first grade classroom: "I got all my experience and my work in one!" He maximized the field experience time, and recommends that "if you have time to do more; it's invaluable – absolutely."
He "loved" the independent study format of the online classes "because not only was I trying to work at the same time, but it also allowed me flexibility. Everything went really smoothly. I thought that the training I got through the program was wonderful. Going into my student teaching – that, I was prepared for and wasn't worried."
And, good thing because Colin’s last week of student teaching was actually in his own kindergarten classroom! It was a whirlwind as the principal requested he start early. But, "everything worked out. They were very gracious to let me step into the role here, and Dr. Medows just did my last observation in my new classroom."
Looking back, he knew he "wanted to work with younger kids" after teaching Sunday school and preschool for years. "I had a big heart for that group." And, working at a Title 1 school that is primarily comprised of Burmese refugees resonates with Colin, as "it's more of mission work for me. I feel like I make a bigger impact on these kids."
He loves watching their progress, and recalls "one little girl who came in not knowing any letters or any sounds that they make, and she was reading on grade level by the end of it. It was super important to me because every day she was saying: 'I want to be a doctor when I grow up. I want to be a doctor.' So I knew she had to be on grade level if she is going to realize this dream. We had to get her to where she needs to be! I was so darn proud of her!"
Like Colin says: "If it's what you are meant to do and you are passionate about it, then you'll be rewarded everyday — even if you aren't making as much money or it's not as easy for you as your last career."