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First-Year Student Stories

GS Blog: Elise Hines

My “Why?” – How one teacher inspired my journey to education

Throughout the years, I have had the opportunity to be influenced and inspired by many different people for many different reasons. As someone who grew up lacking self-confidence and the ability to advocate for myself, influential people (especially the strong women in my life) have always been my role models. In elementary school, my role model was similar to almost every other little girl, my mom. In middle school, the greatest influential people were my dance teachers. During high school, I would have to say my greatest influences came from those around me as I prepared for the next steps. Now, as a first-year college student studying elementary education, I often think about the years growing up. While doing so, I revealed that my interest in being an educator truly began when I was in the fourth grade. In the fourth grade, I had a teacher named Mrs. Lewis. Mrs. Lewis is one the most influential people in my life as she has (most likely, unknowingly) helped me find my passion. 

Rita Pierson once stated, “Every child deserves a champion: an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists they become the best they can possibly be.” With that being said, Mrs. Lewis is my “Why?” for education. When asked what I wanted to be when I grew up, my answer was always “Teacher!” I did not know just how true that answer was until I grew older and my passion for working with kids increased. Going back to my time with Mrs. Lewis, I was an introverted student who began to struggle. I was too timid to ask for help but Mrs. Lewis is the reason that I was able to learn to speak up for myself. Most importantly, Mrs. Lewis helped me to grow confident in myself and my abilities (something I have always struggled with). She stressed the importance of not defining myself by what grade I got on a standardized test or not getting upset when it took me a little bit longer to learn the material than those around me.

One quote/saying which summarized why Mrs. Lewis has had the impact on me that she has is, “Be the teacher that you always needed as a child.” I want to be Mrs. Lewis to my future students. I want them to feel the way that she made me feel and know that they are not more than just a test score or letter on their report card. I think back to fourth grade Elise and remember how happy I was to have a teacher who just “understood me.” Little did I know that I would grow up and work towards becoming a teacher who understands her students and recognizes them as individuals – because that is what Mrs. Lewis did. 

In closing, I feel that it is so important for educators to recognize their “Why?” When educators know their “Why?” they become difference-makers and change agents in their classrooms. Although they may not know it, a transformational teacher leader who is driven by what motivates them can transform their students from being shy and reserved to bold and hardy. I know this because I was that reserved student. I look back and am thankful for Mrs. Lewis and the other influential teachers who have helped transform me into the future teacher I am today. Throughout my time at N.C. State University, I will work to be the champion that my future students need and deserve. Most importantly, I will continue to be like my inspiration – an uplifting teacher who inspires her students to be their very best selves!