In terms of thinking of the people who had a positive impact on my childhood, I feel immensely blessed. My parents ensured that I constantly felt and was told how much I was loved. When I compare my childhood to so many of my students, I realize that I really never had any significant worries. I didn’t worry about whether or not I could attend a fieldtrip based on if my parents had enough money that week; I didn’t worry about whether or not I had clean clothes that fit; I didn’t worry about if we would have enough food that week or not. My mom and dad had a healthy marriage that they reflected to my sister and me and only added to the love we felt. My childhood with my parents was stable and full of love and experiences. My mom chose to leave her job as a dental hygienist when she gave birth to me, in order to stay at home and raise me and later, my sister, while my dad worked. It was never portrayed as a burden for my mom to do this and she was constantly looking for new ways to engage us in learning and experiencing new things. My parents’ continue to influence my life as they are a constant source of love and support. I know they will always be there for me and have my best interests at heart.
My grandparents were also paramount to my childhood development. All three sets of them were actively involved in my life growing up. Our family did birthdays, holidays, sports games, just about any event that elicited gathering together, as a unit. Going over to any of my grandparents’ homes meant extra spoiling: sugary drinks that weren’t allowed at home, extra goodies, later bedtimes…. My grandparents still continue to impact my life. Their wisdom influences the way I see things. They continue to join our family during special gatherings and even though I live a couple hours away from them, we maintain communication through phone calls and visits. They love me unconditionally.
Another relationship that greatly impacted my childhood was the one I had with Ms. Conrad. Ms. Conrad was my Kindergarten teacher. Her love for teaching was evidenced through her relationship with her students. Ms. Conrad was one of the reasons I decided from an early age, to become a Kindergarten teacher. She made each of her students feel individually loved and valued and made learning so much fun; I knew I wanted to be like Ms. Conrad one day! Because of the person she was and the relationship both me and my sister had with her, she later became my Godmother. My mom was actively involved in volunteering in Ms. Conrad’s classroom and my parents decided that if ever anything was to happen to them that Ms. Conrad would continue to love and provide for my sister and me. While I don’t communicate as often as I used to with her, I had lunch a couple years ago with Ms. Conrad. We talked about education and what it used to look like and how it has evolved over the years. She pulled boxes of books she had found in her basement out of her trunk to continue to contribute to the supplies she’s given my classroom. She talked about how proud she was of my heart for teaching and for my students and how she always knew I would become a teacher. I have kept all the “Conrad” labels on her books and supplies she has given me throughout the years to remind me of the teacher she was and I strive to be.
Needless to say, I am blessed. I am the individual and the teacher that I am today because of the people that poured into my life and continue to do so. These relationships motivate me to reciprocate them and invest in the lives of children. In the words of Urie Bronfenbrenner, “Somebody’s got to be crazy about that kid. That’s number one. First, last, and always” (National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, 2004, p. 1). I am so blessed that so many people in my life from childhood on were crazy about me.
National Scientific Council on the Developing Child. (2004). Young children develop in an environment of relationships (Working Paper No. 1). Waltham, MA: Author. Available from Center on the Developing Child, Harvard University website http://developingchild.harvard.edu/index.php/resources/reports_and_working_papers/working_papers/wp1/