A Jaunty Chapeau, Part 1
Okay, that title is a little misleading, because the official name of what I am dreaming to possess is an eight-sided tam. Now, I am guessing that many of my readers are even more confused; so, I will do my best to explain.
A few have sent me messages that they are missing my weekly blogs. Truth be told, so am I. Even though I like to pretend that I am a superhero, I do have my kryptonite and that is the length of the day. I can only squeeze so much in. There have been quite a few changes in my life in the last six months and those changes have impacted my blogging schedule.
I am still teaching at the local university where I adore my students and my colleagues. As I have already shared, my book was released but the publishing company wanted to wait until March for the marketing campaign. (Darn elections and holidays!) So I am guessing that being an author will have an impact as I have more speaking engagements coming in on a regular basis. Above all else, I am still a momma and my children’s schedules always keep me on my toes and my house a little bit messy.
With mothering, speaking, book authoring, and teaching, you might think I have a pretty full schedule. Anyone who really knows me can see what happened – I decided to throw one more thing in there. As my youngest jokingly says, I threw “student-ing” into the mix.
For many years, I have wanted to pursue my doctorate. This isn’t exactly a secret because I have shared on social media, but I have not written about my endeavors here yet. Becoming a student again was too tender, too precious to put into words. I needed to fully breathe it in myself before I could share the goodness of my adventure with all of you. But something happened in the last week that really took my breath away.
I received an email from one of my science method students. What started out as an emailed assignment became so much more. Rarely do I offer extra credit, but the movie Hidden Figures was just too good of an opportunity for my students to pass up. I believe future science teachers truly need an understanding of the contributions of scientists throughout history to appreciate those efforts. During our exchange, my student acknowledged how much she owed to the women who blazed a trail before her and then she thanked me. I shared if you only knew my story.
On the first day of high school physics, my teacher announced to the class. Gentlemen, we are going to have a great year. Ladies (there were three of us if memory serves me correctly) not one of you will make it through this course. I was heartbroken and fuming. That marked the first time in my life where someone told me I was “less than”. My original dreams didn’t include being a scientist until someone told me I couldn’t. For the record, I was the only girl who stuck with it.
In my heart I always knew I would become a teacher, but my path to obtaining a teaching license wasn’t a linear one. I became a scientist first. A chemist actually. I worked for the Department of Energy and loved it, but deep in my soul, I wanted to be the bridge for all the other young girls in the world to show them that they too could become scientists, mathematicians, and engineers or anything else their hearts desired. The decision to be a science and mathematics teacher was an easy one for me and I have never looked back.
There is a movement going on Twitter right now, because very few people can name an actual scientist despite the desperate need for STEM professionals in our ever changing world. The hashtag #ActualLivingScientist is pretty spectacular and I am enjoying reading and sharing the work my fellow scientists do. The world needs role models and these men and women are showing there is so much more to the world of science that what students see in textbooks or in movies.
Science and teaching. Education and mathematics. These are the things that keep my mind really busy most every day. My heart keeps busy with other things, but I go through the world looking at it with the mind of the curious.
Some in my life just look at me and shake their heads because I bring homework everywhere. Sitting in the stands cheering on my daughters while my lap is busy with textbooks to read, papers to write, and projects to complete. You will never hear me complain though. I might shed a few tears and lose a little sleep, but I am getting to do something that is denied to countless girls and women around the world.
I have the opportunity to learn and for that I am truly grateful.
My student wanted me to know that she appreciated all the ways I give back to my students in class and outside and for the ways I helping to make their future better. I shared with her that while I didn’t have to take an oath to become an educator, I felt it was my duty to be a force for good. Then I shared how much learning means to me. In my immediate family, I am one of the first women to earn a bachelor’s degree and the first woman to earn a master’s degree. For my people, I am blazing a trail as the first person to earn a doctorate.
I have a lot of people counting on me. So, when my blogs grow a little farther apart at times, know that right now, I am trailblazing, working on someday adding a few more letters to my name and for the right to wear a jaunty chapeau. But more importantly, to shine my beacon of light for all the little girls in my life so they believe their dreams are achievable too!