Future Teachers Told of ‘Defining Moments’ Ahead

May 05, 2011 / by / 0 Comment

By Doug Carroll
Communications Staff

The executive director of the Arizona K-12 Center told prospective College of Education graduates on Thursday morning to expect “defining moments” involving unlikely sources as their teaching careers take shape.

In her keynote address to the COE convocation at Phoenix First Assembly of God Church, Dr. Kathy Weibke told of small things that ultimately had a profound impact on her course in life.

Weibke was a business major in college, faring poorly in an economics class, when she decided to meet with the professor for the class, Michael Duffy.

“I know you love this — but I don’t,” she told him, figuring she had nothing to lose.

Duffy’s response surprised her.

“What is it that you really want to do in life?” he asked.

Weibke said that she wanted to teach, and the professor said he would allow her to withdraw from his class on the condition that she enroll in the school’s College of Education the next semester. She did, and she hasn’t looked back.

“We need to trust our heart and follow our path,” Weibke said. “We often let the noise around us determine our next turn.”

Weibke said she had paid too much attention at a young age to those saying that teaching didn’t pay enough and offered little job security. Those perspectives often were delivered with a stinging kicker: “You could be so much more.”

When a passion is involved, Weibke said, pay no mind to other persuasions.

“Think about how and where you will leave your mark,” she told the degree candidates. “Remain enthused and enthralled. Do not succumb to the naysayers and pessimists. Teach every child as if they were your own.”

Inspiration can even return to a teacher from his or her students. Weibke said that after she had taken the national board-certification exam, she shared with her elementary-school students her fears that she hadn’t done well.

After a long silence, a boy named Shawn spoke up.

“Did you do your best?” he asked, and she replied that she had. “That’s what you always tell us.”

Anthony Perez, a master’s degree candidate who recently was recognized by the Rodel Foundation as a promising student teacher, also addressed the convocation.

Perez said he had planned on a career in the military until a teacher, John Williams, saw something else in him.

Perez went on to become the first in his family to graduate from college. He was a student teacher for second-graders at Glenn F. Burton School in Glendale.

“Serving as a positive role model is one of the reasons I chose to become an educator,” Perez said. “People like John Williams aren’t good teachers — they’re great teachers. They inspire others to be the change we desperately need.”

Reach Doug Carroll at 639.8011 or [email protected].

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