When I was in preschool, I remember telling my mom that I was going to be a kindergarten teacher. I’m not quite sure what about that profession (and yes, teaching is a profession) attracted me, I just knew that I was going to spend my life in education. Maybe my older friends told me stories of kindergarten greatness, maybe I just thought it sounded cool, I didn’t think it was important enough to remember why. All I knew was that I was going to teach. Until I grew up.
As the years went on and my many amazing talents and passions grew and developed, I wanted to become more than a kindergarten teacher. I thought I was better than teaching. I went through surgeon, fashion designer, psychiatrist, vet, cartoon artist, nanny, and translator in a matter of months. My high school self couldn’t figure out why I wasn’t settling on a career path. Teaching was my back up career, something I would do if it turned out I wasn’t good enough at anything else. I thought I was going to end up graduating college with no career in mind. Nightmares of living with my parents for the rest of my life and becoming a substitute teacher haunted my dreams. It was a dark time in my teenage life (#whitegirlproblems?).
Eventually I made it to BU. I entered college as a spanish major and quickly switched into the psychology department when I realized my spanish was never going to improve and that I would never be able to teach spanish. I enjoyed my Psych 101 class and decided I wanted to go into school psychology. Things were going great! Until I met an advisor for the School of Education on a build trip to New Orleans over freshman year winter break. And that’s when things changed. I enrolled in Intro to Education and since then, I’ve been hooked on SED.
It took me 13 years to stumble upon the career that my kindergarten self always knew I would eventually go into. What did my kindergarten self know that my adult self couldn’t figure out? How did my kindergarten self, more intent on eating worms and digging holes to China than picking a career, know that I would one day end up wanting to teach that dirt digging worm eating age? Was it just a case of serendipity, did I just once decide I was going to be a kindergarten teacher because it sounded cool and it just happened to be the same thing I decided to do with my life? Maybe. Maybe I figured it out while I was learning to read, perhaps my passion was found when digging in the sand. Regardless, I will never doubt the insight of a 5 year old because my 5 year old self could see the future and it was a place of finger paint and magic.
Let’s get real. Kindergarten is magical. It’s your first year as a big kid. Kindergarten is where squiggly lines become letters. It’s where many people learn to read and write and do math. Kindergarten is where you learn that pencils are for writing not fighting and that there’s a reason our parents can find the story hidden in the pages of books and we can’t. There’s nothing more beautiful than seeing a class of five year olds suddenly get it. Seeing a child learn how to spell their name for the first time or count higher than the amount of appendages they have is truly magical. Kindergarten is the first year where children begin to see that they can change the world if they try. Or at least, kindergarten should be that place but unfortunately, it often isn’t. But that is something we can discuss at a different time and place.
So bring me your little geniuses, your worm eaters, your dirt diggers, your ballerinas, your firefighters, and that kid who will inevitably get a bead stuck up his nose during art. I want them all. Because these are the future leaders of America. These are the doctors who will care for us when we’re old and no longer full of the life we are brimming with at the moment. These are the politicians that will shape our country, the police officers, the firefighters, the veterinarians, the writers, and the artists. Most importantly, these are the future kindergartner teachers of America. Their journey starts where mine will end and I can’t wait to help them find their future.