Center for Public Service Blog

Shine on Teachers: Alumna Sharon Kolp Shares Her Teachable Moments

What motivated you to become a teacher?

My family really led me into this profession, as there is a legacy of teachers in my family. My grandmother was a teacher, my cousins, too, are teachers. Although I resisted it for a long time (I thought I wanted to be a psychologist), in the end the want to teach prevailed. It was at my first summer job at a residential facility for the severe and profoundly handicapped where I decided I wanted to teach. Once I started working with these individuals I found it fascinating, fulfilling, and exciting. Teaching is a creative adventure and I was hooked. From that point on, I knew teaching was my calling.

What have you learned about yourself since you started teaching?

As a teacher, I have learned not to take myself so seriously, first and foremost, and that there is no end to learning­—absolutely no end. I also have far more patience than I ever thought I had. And I've learned to have a good sense of humor.

What do you find most rewarding as a teacher?

My job is transformation, academically and emotionally. There are so many kids that come from very stable homes, so my role is that of teaching academics. But then there are those students that come from homes that are not able to meet all their needs. So in those circumstances, I get to help those kids on an emotional level. I get to be the good parent and role model for those students who don't have that guidance at home. I get the chance to model for my students the way adults handle their emotions, like anger and frustration, and share with them my own experiences. I can help them grow and develop motivation and gain self-esteem. And that is the transformational part, helping shape their future in a positive light. It doesn't get more rewarding than that.

What advice do you have for someone who is considering teaching as a profession?

My advice is to keep your focus on what your job really is: educating your students. This profession brings with it so many rules, regulations, and laws. But despite all of the bureaucracy, once you are in that classroom, you are the one that is in charge. You are the one who is creating that environment that can lead to learning and transformation for these children. Learn to focus on what the real important piece is and leave the other stuff at the door.

Personally, I am going to teach my kids to read. I am going to teach them to love reading and writing, and hopefully motivate them to want to be successful. The rest will come with time, but for now, that is what I am here to do.

The views and opinions expressed in this blog are solely those of the author(s) and are not attributable to Purdue Global.