Next up in our SHE Educates series is Dana Pare. Dana is a 28-year-old teacher in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. She has experience teaching both high school and middle school math for the past six years. She has a passion for educating future young minds & a love for numbers. When she is not in the classroom, she is coaching cheerleading at the middle school where she works. She believes that when teachers immerse themselves in to the school community, students truly feel cared about as a person & not as a number inside the classroom. When she is not teaching or coaching, she spends her time with loved ones, reading a great book, and watching her Green Bay Packers play. Fall is her favorite time of year because it means it’s football season. Go Pack Go!
I was so honored and excited when I was asked to write a post. Being an educator is not an easy profession, and no one day is ever the same. I am constantly having to stay on my toes because after all, I teach middle schoolers and teenage mood swings are a real thing.
Growing up I always knew I wanted to choose a career where I helped others. My Mum would say when I was little I would play “school” with my toys & constantly be wanting to teach. My first influences came when I was in elementary school where two strong female teachers showed me what an impact one can have in the classroom. Their passion to get to know us as children rather than just another student from another school year showed me that a teacher can help a child with more than just the content a state requires them to teach. I was reminded of that again when I was in high school and my DECA teacher took an interest in my future. She became my sounding board and ultimately helped me decide that becoming a teacher is what I was called to do with my life. To these three women I want to say thank you. Mrs. Hensley, Mrs. Ornealas, & Mrs. Pilgrim, to you I owe everything. For without you I would not be spending my life doing a job I am so passionate about & that I look forward to going to each day.
Now, you may be wondering where my decision to teach math, and middle schoolers of all people, comes from. I owe that partially to my parents who made me and my two sisters go to summer school every summer when we were little. They said it was so that our brains were still challenged during the summer, but whatever the reason was, I would not have met the teacher who showed me that I could take my love of sports and my ease with numbers and combine them. During the summer between sixth and seventh grade, I got to spend time in the classroom analyzing baseball plays & finding stats on players, etc. He is the first teacher who really challenged me when it came to math, which is why I chose to get my bachelor’s degree in mathematics.
In college, there were moments when I thought getting a degree in math was not what a woman does. In college, there were moments when I thought getting a degree in math was not what a woman does. I would sit in my mathematics classes and notice that there were very few female students in there with me, but one day, for some reason, I was walking down the hall of the math department and noticed there were more female professors than males. It was that moment that caused me to sit down and ask my math advisor why she chose to get two degrees in mathematics and if she ever felt the same way I did walking into a college course and noticing the lack of females in the room. It was through our discussion that I realized it shouldn’t matter how many females versus males are receiving math degrees, that if this is my passion and what I want to do, I should go after it no matter what or how few other females were achieving it around me. I had several other female professors at Belmont University who made me realize that as a woman, I could do anything I set my mind to. One of them got me a tutoring job with the math department to help me pay for school. In those moments of helping other students who were struggling and being a part of the light bulb moment when what was challenging finally made sense, was the final deciding factor in my decision to not just become an educator, but become an educator who teaches mathematics to our future generations.
In my classroom, I am empowering today’s youth. I feel I am really making an impact when a student wants to share parts of their lives that happen outside of my classroom with me. I get to be a small part in a chapter of each child’s book of life, and that is what brings me the most joy. I get to be a small part in a chapter of each child’s book of life, & that is what brings me the most joy. When former students come back to visit me or reach out to me, they let me in to another chapter of their lives even after they have left my classroom. They tell me of the impact I have had on their lives and how I have made math less daunting to them. It reminds me that what I do matters, that who I am in the classroom and not just what I teach has lifelong influence.
Since the first day in my own classroom to this current school year, I find myself being reminded daily that this profession is never easy. Sometimes it is harder than I ever imagined it would be, but I have never once thought I would do anything else with my life. I have found over the years & from teaching in multiple different school environments that the same thing holds true in any place you go. There will always be someone or something that will try to taint your love of teaching. Whether it be the county policies of where you work, the state testing crisis that makes you want to rip your hair out for your students, or even those teachers who have nothing positive to say who occupy the room just right next door or even down the hall from you.
No matter what you choose to do with your life, there is always going to be people who will judge you for that decision and disagree with the path you have chosen for yours. Some of those very same people exist in our neighboring classrooms at our schools. The education field is not made for those who are not willing to fight and sacrifice for the students that come and go each year in their classroom. Those who are not willing to go through the difficulties that we face outside the four walls of our classroom & succumb to the roadblocks we face that may sometimes prevent us from doing our jobs will eventually find their way out of the educational world altogether. It is the educators who stick through it all that are the ultimate heroes to today’s youth & the future generations to come that will continue to impact and positively influence inside their classrooms.
So for those young boss SHEs who are thinking of becoming a future educator, I want to say this. Teaching is not a profession for everyone, but if you are driven by a passion for changing the lives of young children & not easily turned away by educational politics that may cause minor speed bumps in your effort to be the very best educator you can be, making teaching your career path will be the best decision of your life. if you are driven by a passion for changing the lives of young children… making teaching your career path will be the best decision of your life. Seek out experienced educators, and learn from them. Learn from our mistakes and our triumphs. Find a mentor in your school who you know is always going to have your back and will help you in any way they can because it is that teacher when you have bad days that will be your constant reminder of why you chose this profession to begin with. Choose a teacher who will be honest with you, even when you’re wrong and don’t want to hear it. That is the teacher that will make you better, for your students, for your school, and for your career. It took me some time to realize this myself, but once I discovered that I needed fellow teachers who are going to have my best interest at heart in a crazy and challenging, but powerful profession, I have discovered that nothing can stand in my way of educating and impacting those young minds who walk in to my classroom every day. It is the students who make my job so rewarding & remind me that I can overcome anything that stands in the way of giving them the best 7th & 8th grade math teacher they could possibly ever have.
I want to end by telling all my former, my current, and my future students that I come to work every day with a passion to make you the best versions of yourselves. My goal is for you to get the most value out of my classroom and leave knowing you have impacted my life in so many ways. I may only get to spend a year or two as your teacher, but I am always going to be one of your biggest cheerleaders for your success in life, and I am always here to care and help you even after you have left the four walls of my classroom. For without you, even on your good or bad days, this life of mine would not be nearly as fulfilling if you were not in it. Thank you for changing my life and reminding me daily why I chose to become an educator.