From life changing setbacks to Master Degree. Read Althea's Story.

"Growing up in a family of immigrants (of two very different cultures) I picked up languages quickly and became multi-lingual. It was this passion for language that led me to want to be an educator. I wanted so badly to teach Italian, even though I spoke Sicilian - it was close enough. When I started college, my college advisor told me that the likelihood of me being hired as an Italian teacher was slim to none. Being young and not secure enough in me, I listened and decided to do Spanish. I did well in my classes, but the exam for the Spanish content kept getting the best of me and eventually I just gave up. I loved my student teaching and was fantastic at it, so much so that the principal offered me a job - once I was certified of course. The phone call explaining that I could not take that position because “I was a failure” was probably the most embarrassing moment of my career. 

You know that Aaliyah song - ‘dust yourself off and try again’ - well, I did, about nine years later. After experiencing loss, regret, and thinking of things you never finished, life kind of just pushes you in the right direction and one day you just wake up and decide - it’s time. I left my office job, was unemployed, then worked fifteen hours a week as an after school teacher, when I finally decided it was my time. I signed up for graduate school and I have been busting my rear end ever since. I became a long term sub in a school where I didn’t really feel like I contributed or belonged. Then, the pandemic hit, and as a techy-person, I thrived. It validated everything. Seeing my “kids” glow up, transition into the remote world, seeing the lessons and virtual field trips I created, all of my past failures were now making me feel like it was all for this purpose. I had to know what it was like to fail as an educator to know what it felt like to succeed. 

Along the way in your life, you will meet teachers, either through your schoolwork or if you choose this as a career, and without you really knowing they sort of leave an imprint on you. I never really had a “mentor” but when I look back at the educators who I have crossed paths with, there is something I have learned from each of them. In elementary school, we had a music teacher - Mrs. Hall-Wagner - she was the bomb at the piano. But what made her exceptional - was that she took a few of us to Lincoln Center. We watched Tosca, The Three Oranges (I think that was what it was called), and Carmen (though I still prefer the Beyonce Version). It was an experience that I will never forget and probably the reason why I love musicals and opera so much still. In middle school - Mrs. Mulholland - my English teacher, showed me how to write with “umph” and how letters on a page are more than just words stringed together, but they are stories and pieces of a person written down and documented to share. She showed me how writing was a way to escape. In high school - Ms. Simone, Mr. Bernardi, and Mr. Serrago. Ms. Simone made me love the Spanish Language, Mr. Bernardi made me interested in History and how it shaped us, and Mr. Serrago made Shakespeare more than gibberish on a smelly old book. As a substitute, I met two teachers - Mrs. U  & Mrs. A - who kept it as real as any teachers could. They showed me the curriculum, answered my millions of questions, and never let me feel like I didn’t have support as a new teacher. In fact, of the nine teachers, I asked for a recommendation for my portfolio, they were the only two that actually wrote me one. So, did I have an actual Mentor - no - I had people who left imprints and I view them as mentors nonetheless.

If there is anything I want the readers of Life Settlers to know, is that if you are truly dedicated and motivated, there is nothing that can prevent you from achievement. I am a firm believer that hard work is worth it - despite the many people who say why to work hard when for others things come so easily. For me, the gratification of completing something is the biggest reward. I motivate myself by creating goal lists or charts that show my progress. I saw this thing on Pinterest for a “debris” and I made an anchor chart of it so I could pay off my credit card debt (which round of applause y’all, I am officially credit card debt-free). I am one of those people that has to constantly have a goal. I feel like if I am not working towards something than I am doing nothing. So there is always some goal I am trying to achieve and that keeps a fire lit under my behind. With that being said, right now my dreams for my future are to own a home, because it was something my parents never did, complete grad school, get an advanced certificate in TESOL, or get a second masters - may be a Ph.D., and become a professor of education (because most of the ones I have had, I ended up having to teach myself - insert shrug emoji). Yes, that is a lot of goals. But like I said, if you aren’t aiming high, what are you really doing?

And just a close - a little note I wish I would have told myself when I thought I was “failing” at life. It is OKAY. S*#& Happens. That is the beauty of failing is that you can look at what or how it went wrong and just say it is okay. If it is worth trying again, then you can. If it isn’t, move on. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Trust the process and know that it will all be OKAY. "

xo - That Tattooed Teacher.