There’s more than one way to become a teacher….

Today I am getting together with Walt Disney’s Studios and sharing a personal story of how I overcame an obstacle in my life. I am the youngest of five kids.  I have a sister who is sixteen years older than me and our three brothers are in between.  When I was four I became an aunt for the first time…and quickly more nieces and nephews followed.  When those nieces and nephews came for a visit, I was the entertainment committee thanks to the school room my mom provided for us to play in.  My mom was a garage saler and a thrifter just like I am.  She bought school desks, black boards and supplies so that my nieces, nephews, and I could all play…and play we did. Just to show you all the great goodies my mom provided for us in our school room, here’s a picture of me with my copy of the Declaration of Independence that my mom purchased for it. DeclarationofIndependence We didn’t just play school.  I really taught them and I loved it.  My mom always said I was a natural born teacher.  When my senior year of high school rolled around, no one in my family really asked what I was going to do.  They all knew I would go to college and become a teacher.  At the time back in 1984, no one in my family had been to college and all were cheering me to be the first in the family to graduate from college. Before long I was at Mankato State University in Minnesota pursuing that teaching degree.  At the time, I wanted to be a high school English teacher.  Things were going well.  I was taking as many classes as possible working my way through college when I went home with my roommate and met a guy.  That guy and I started dating and ten months later I got a positive pregnancy test.  Yes.  I was pregnant.  I told the guy… I told my mom and packed my bags.  That dream that my family had for me to become a teacher was over.  I lost my chance to be a teacher.  I was marrying the guy and my life was going a different direction. My family was supportive.  The guy was supportive.  I was somewhat depressed.  At that time, there weren’t on-line classes.  We were far enough away that there was no way to commute to college.  The teaching dream was dead and honestly, I was a little sad.  People weren’t kind.  People in the small town talked and people would stop talking when I walked into the room.  I was “that” girl….the pregnant one. I got married and we moved to my husband’s community.  I started working at the local school as a teacher’s assistant.  I loved it.  We had our first baby, Kelli, and our next, Kayla, a year later.  At that point there was no use to work so we had another baby, Buck.  Three kids in three years.  My husband and I moved and I was isolated, just me and kids while Hubby worked long hours.  That’s when I first realized that maybe…just maybe…my dream wasn’t really over.  I had my own little classroom of my own kids and I was the parent/teacher. We moved again and again adding two more kids, Karl and Kalissa, to the mix.  At different times I investigated going back to college but still it wasn’t feasible.  I did odd jobs which allowed me stay home with the kids…but the love of teaching didn’t wane.  I taught story hour…I taught Sunday School.  The teacher was still in me. When our youngest went to kindergarten, I started providing in-home childcare.  I loved it.  I had my own little group of kids to teach.  While doing that I went to community college and got my Early Childhood Education degree…it wasn’t the four year degree I wanted…but it was still a step towards teaching. That was 8 years ago.  I no longer do childcare.  Now I teach in other ways.  I teach continuing education classes for child care providers in NE Iowa and Southern Minnesota and I am the owner and operator of the website Making Learning Fun.  The site is filled with FREE early learning ideas so that teachers, childcare providers, librarians or anyone else who loves children can come and download learning ideas for kids for free.  I don’t have day to day interaction with kids but every day throughout the globe, people are using ideas from my website to help children.  I just love knowing that I am a part of that.  Via my work on my website a part of me goes into the classroom.  I feel so honored. I am a teacher.  It may not be in the traditional way but teaching is what I do.  I teach via my website.  I even teach via my blog by providing tutorials and patterns for all of you.  God created me to teach…and He helped me find ways to do it without the four year degree I thought I needed to be a teacher. I am so blessed.  I can stay at home and work…I don’t need good clothes and I don’t have to commute.  I can run outside and help that guy that I am still married to when he needs help farming.  I can be there when my kids need me….I am so glad that I learned that there truly is more than one way to be a teacher. I recently got a chance to sit down with a few of my kiddos and watch Monster’s University.  We loved it.

Isn’t it funny how no matter how old a person grows, Disney can still make them laugh?  As the kids watched the show, I couldn’t help but wonder what life has in store for them.  Will life trip them up with an unplanned pregnancy?  Will things not go as they dream?  I am so glad that they got a chance to see that even though there are forks in the road it doesn’t mean we lose our way. Seeing that framed copy of the Declaration of Independence that my mom bought for our old school room always makes me smile…I can’t help but think of the words, “Life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”.  Teaching  is part of my happiness…and I am going to pursue it no matter what.  Like my mom always said..I am a born teacher. So would you like a chance to win a $50 Visa Gift Card and a Monsters University Blu-ray Combo Pack?  Just leave a comment here telling how you believed in yourself and you followed your dream.


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87 thoughts on “There’s more than one way to become a teacher….”

  1. I couldn’t help crying when I read your post. It felt like you were describing my life and all the forks in it where I made poor decisions. When I read your story I feel like even though I may have taken some wrong turns, there is still hope for a good life. God bless you.

  2. My dream was retire and live on the ocean by the time I was 50 because my mom died of a massive coronary at age 50. I did it, but not without consequences. That said, they were worth it!

  3. Betsy Fisher Smith

    I loved your story!! You are a teacher in EVERY sense of the word!! 48 years of diabetes has taken a lot of my vision but I have a wonderful life with my husband!! I met my husband online 5 years ago and we had lived only 6 houses apart for the last 20 years!! I was 47 when we finally met in person!! We’ve been together ever since! He accepts and loves me even with all my medical problems, that’s a lot to take on at our age!! He calls me his angel and I call him my hero!! God is good!! Don’t ever give up hope!! Life is wonderful with my Tom and my 2 kitties!!

  4. I must admit your story is familiar. When I was graduating high school, I told my parents I wanted to be a teacher but they said no, teachers are a dime a dozen. This was in ’72 – mom and dad were paying for college so they wanted to decide my major. I did graduate, got married, divorced 5 years later, joined the Navy, got married again – became pregnant and got out of the Navy. We ended up with 3 beautiful children. I taught for 3 years at a Christian school until my dh and I decided to home school – and we did – all the way through high school. My dream did come true – just a few years later down the road. Now, my daughter has 3 children and I am home schooling the oldest. It’s amazing what God has in store for us down the road – I have never regretted it. Even though the road was rocky and seemed impassable, He brought us through and here I am today, continuing to do what I wanted. It took an initial 15 years, give or take, but so worth it. God is good – through it all.

  5. I don’t know about a dream, but I had to leave my ex and figure out how to support my kids on my own. I went back to college and earned another degree in my middle years that enabled me to do this.

  6. You are to be commended for having a dream and following it. Plus, you are a wonderful teacher. I truly enjoy your blog. My dream was to meet the right person to spend my life with. My husband and I met and dated for 13 years. We both had children from previous marriages and didn’t really want to try the combined family thing. We have now been married for 17 years (total 30 years together). I retired two years ago and we are living our dream life. We enjoy puttering around the community together. He supported my desire to build a quilt studio, so I have a place to go when we need the time apart. He volunteers in community service organizations, like Kiwanis. I belong to two quilt guilds and make charity quilts. We live in a neighborhood with great neighbors. It’s a dream life.

  7. Ellen Groenenboom

    When I was younger I dreamed of being an accountant – ever girl’s dream right? So, after five years of hard work, i graduated with a masters in accounting. I even met my husband while I was at it! :)

  8. Brava for you Jo!!! I love hearing stories of strong, courageous women who don’t let the knocks in life keep them down!!! My story is similar to many others I believe. I came from a long line of divorced families, so I was determined that my first marriage would be my only one. I would stop the heritage of broken families and have a strong family filled with love and encouragement for my children. Of course, no one in my family had a clue about how to teach me to look for someone who would help me make that dream come true. I held on way past the time I should have left that marriage, and I’m sorry that I did to this day. So much heartbreak could have been avoided, but I was too stubborn and stayed in a very bad situation. Finally, I did leave, but I felt like a failure and spent years in a depressed state. Then I met the Lord and began to pray for his help and for a good man to share my life with. After 10 years alone, I got a second job waitressing to help pay the bills and provide for my two children. Both of them were teens and beginning to make some really bad choices and I was afraid for them. Then I met my current husband at the restaurant! We’ve been together now for 17 years and our marriage is what I always believed a marriage could be. My son was blessed by that positive male influence and turned his life around, went to college, marriage a beautiful girl and is now happily married with their third child on the way! My daughter didn’t fare quite as well. She was older and had already married a bully who abused her. Thank God though, three years ago, she finally got out and came to stay with us to put her life back together. And today she is in a great relationship with her future husband. Never give up – keep dreaming and praying! God brought us up and out of a long heritage of misery and we are learning to make a better future for all of our children!

  9. Thanks for sharing, Jo! Life threw you a curve ball and you worked your way around it. Thank you also for sharing your gift of teaching here with us on your blog. Love your tutorials!

  10. I enjoyed reading your post, congratulations on your success. Life really leads us in unplanned directions doesn’t it? I married young, 18. The man I married who was 19 had a drinking problem and I didn’t realize until years later that he was an alcoholic. He had jobs but quit them with hunting season came around. I worked from before we were married and am working still. When I was 30 ish I decided that I needed a good job that would provide for all of us so I went to school to become a nurse. My husband took care of the kids. He wanted constant gratitude for his sacrifices. I managed to get through school while working part time. After 23 years I had had enough and felt I could manage on my own. My kids were mostly grown so I divorced him. I met and married a wonderful man who is my best friend and am very happy now. My kids are grown and are a huge part of my life as are my 8 grand kids. Nursing has given me courage, strength and a spiritual outlet as lives touch me as much as I touch them. I’m grateful for my life and the lessons I’ve learned.

  11. Glenda in Florida

    Jo–Thanks for sharing your story. You have worked hard, and should be proud of all that you have accomplished, as well as the accomplishments of your husband and your children. I chose to marry before I finished school, but always tried to advance my education, taking correspondence classes while overseas,and then returning to finish my degree as soon as I had a chance. Later, the opportunity to teach college classes fell into my lap, and I decided to go back to school for my MBA so I could pursue teaching at the college level. It was fun while it lasted, but I’m retired now, and enjoying that too :-)

  12. Haven’t achieved my dream yet, but I stay positive and don’t let others influence me in a negative way.
    jslbrown_03 at yahoo dot com

  13. Loved your story. I went to college to be a laboratory tech and married my high school sweetheart when we were 19. We are still together after 43 yrs, but I am no longer working in a lab. I quit that when we had our 2 boys and I stayed home with them. I never liked office courses in slchool and swore that I would never work in an office. Well, the only job I could find when I was ready to go back to work was being the office manager for a substance abuse counseling agency and I really love my work. Have been at it for 22 yrs. Strange how things change.

  14. Your story tugged at my heart. Strength, determination and hard work; oh yes positive attitude helps get us through these hiccups. Congratulations, you have a wonderful loving family, a great home business and you are a wonderful teacher. Thank you for sharing a bit of your history and road to happiness.

  15. I think we are cut from the same cloth. Right after high school, I went to college to become a teacher- it’s all I ever wanted to be. At the time though, everyone tried to talk me out of it (there’s no money in teaching, there’s no respect in teaching, there’s no career advancement in teaching….) Well, I listened and dropped out of college. 18 years and 2 children later, I went back to school and got my education degree. It’s been 15 years and I still can’t imagine doing anything else (even though there really is no money, respect…..) Imagine if I had stayed on course though- I could be retiring!!! Oh well- at least I’m doing what I love!!

  16. Jo, I am so much like you I too wanted to be a teacher. I went to college started taking classes to teach kindergarten and found that I wanted to teach even younger children. I changed colleges and took early childhood ed. classes. I graduated and found a job teaching. I taught in a few different schools and then like you met a man and became pregnant. I took time out to raise our daughter and move a lot with my husband. Our daughter went to kindergarten and I found a job teaching in a preschool. My husband then was transferred and we moved again 2 more times. I then found out the blessing of another child on the way. Boy he was a surprise as I was told that I couldn’t have any more children. When that son was in school I started working at his grade school part time. Then once again we made a big move. The son was old enough that I again started working at a preschool. I stayed for 9 years when God had other plans that I was to start my own Preschool. I started with 2 children and I now teach 8 children at a time. One class M-W-F and the other T/Th. All this in 4 years we even have purchased a building to put the preschool. I have the most supportive husband of 33 years. God has our plans laid out for us we just need to have our ear tuned to Him and be ready.

  17. I believed in myself and achieved my dream to attain my MBA, when I was working full time. It took a lot of time management and organization, but I knew I could reach this goal, and I did.

  18. Loved your story and I use your website! So funny I never connected the two! I’m a preschool teacher (teaching was my dream), but now I’m a new mommy and my dream is changing, missing the time with my little guy is sometimes too much! So I’m dreaming of summer!

  19. Your story is very touching. I think it tells of the sacrifices that we make for our families. Like yours, my family farms and my husband works his dream job every day. I did not pursue my dream job because two people who work long hours do not good parents make! However I almost two years ago I started quilting and that has fulfilled my creative need, like nothing else has. Thanks for the inspiring post!

  20. I made a lot of poor choices at 18, I went to Nurses school as I had planned ALL my life. It was what I planned on being even as a 6 yr old. My older sister has a photograhic memory, very high IQ, and I don’t. I was always told “that’s ok Carolyn, you don’t have to be as smart as your sister” It was OK to get ‘C’ on a test…. while she brought home “A”. I always felt not as smart as her… “less than”
    However the guy I dated in HS went away to college he didn’t do well that 1st semester and dropped out. He got a job (my dad helped him get it) and I moved in w him most of the time. My grades dropped.(of course I was “less than”) I couldn’t be his mom, lover, and student demands of nursing school. We ended up breaking up.a few months later.
    I of course found another “BAD” relationship. It was abusive,both physical and mental. I was only able to get out of it, because the people I worked for (a small doughnut shop) told me that there were rooms for rent in that area. Eventually we got back together w HS sweet heartand the lady I was renting from died, I again had no where to stay. He ‘took me in” and we did marry that year.
    What i didn’t know then, but know now, is that both of them were drug addicts/alcoholics. I was doomed…. I tryed 2 more times to go back to Nursing school before I actually succeeded. I did get my LPN, while I was married, but I was not happy with that. I wanted my RN.The second time I was working FULL TIME, decided to have a baby.LEt me tell you, getting pregnant, working and taking some classes is not so bad. BUT trying to breasfeed, work 32 hrs (still FT) and take classes….. I didn’t make it.(again “LESS THAN”) DH was not working as much as I was.
    3 kids later, and AA came into our life. With the help of Al-anon, (and AA for him) I did go into therapy too. I eventually decided that I was going to take a few classes. Amazing I did well, I continued on, and despite the eventual cheating husband and our separation I did graduate and got my RN! It was not easy there were times that last 3-5 months that I almost washed out again. But I had learned that I was NOT LESS THAN! that I was smart and could do it!!!!
    That was in 1992, the year that hospitals stopped hiring any nurses!!! I couldn’t get a job. I had been working as an LPN and kept that job (actually 2 of them) but because of the separation I was having a little difficulty that summer meeting all of my bills. I prayed a lot!
    Eventually I was hired on as a Public Health Nursing doing Home visits, which evolved into working w young mom’s and babys. I continued w the Health Dept working in a low income Clinic until I retired in 2012.
    i also married a great man who I also met in ’92. we didn’t marry till ’98 as both of us had HS and school age children. It has been a roller coaster ride, But I wouldn’t change much of it.
    Thanks for sharing your story!

  21. Having grown up hearing my Mom constantly express that she could not do this or that it would have been easy to take on that attitude. Even as a kid though I somehow decided that I would never say that. I have always taken on the attitude that I can do whatever comes my way and because of that I have had some amazing experiences in my life that I would not trade for anything. Thanks for sharing your story as it shows that our dreams do work out not always on the path that we set for ourselves but they can be fulfilled in other ways.

  22. I wasn’t sure I would be able to go to business school and hold down a job, but I was able to do it and graduate!

  23. One of my dreams in life was to own a home. It took a lot of saving and sacrifice, but i did achieve my dream.

  24. I struggled to believe in myself prior to having children, as odd as it sounds becoming a Mother gave me a new found confidence. I try to be the best version of myself possible so that I can be a role model to my children.

  25. Sorry if this posts twice. My browser keeps crashing!

    I achieved my dream of being a stay-at-home mom! My husband went to school while working full-time to switch careers. Then we moved to a different state and I was able to quit my job and stay home with our daughter. I love it! It meant so much to me to have my mom home when I was growing up, and I wanted the same for my daughter. So now we have it!

  26. I too took a longer road to become a teacher. I wanted to be a nurse, but could not get past the class where students learn to use needles. I met my husband at school, and three kids later found out that I love being with kids. I am blessed to teach Pre-K now, and am happy to work with this age group.
    I love Making Learning Fun! You are a wonderful and creative curriculum artist. Thank you for sharing your story.

  27. You are such an inspiration! I have had the honor of meeting you at various conferences and it is always exciting to have you as “my” teacher. Your ideas acre amazing!
    My story is much like yours. I too was at the same college, and I too was persuing education until I found out I was pregnant. I took a break from full time schooling, but tried to take as many online classes as possible, all while working full time and trying to balance motherhood and being a wife. It was not easy! I came to a point where online or night classes were no longer available. My education was put on hold and I felt discouraged. I wanted to be a stay at home mom, but financially, it was not possible. I jumped from job to job…but did not find happiness and I knew I wanted to be home with my child. That is when I decided to open up my own childcare also! At first, it was my way of paying the bills while being home with my child. Slowly but surely, I had a house full of little ones; I became their teacher, and they became my teacher. We were singing, counting, playing and exploring! Everyday was an adventure! They also taught me to believe in myself…I WAS a teacher! It was not long before I became very passionate and proud to be a daycare provider! I provided childcare for 13 years, and during that time, my husband and I had two more children. It took 13 years, but I was presented with an opportunity to finish my Early Childhood Degree while still keeping my daycare open. I worked hard for two years…full time school and full time daycare. Many late nights and long hours. In the end, I did earn my teaching degree! I was blessed to obtain a teaching position right after graduation, but was sad to close my daycare doors. The daycare market was tough and I knew a new group of children were awaiting for me to teach them. However, in my heart I knew daycare is what made me who I am. Those little ones taught me to believe in myself and allowed me to use the gifts God had given me to be a teacher. I continue to teach today, and I continue to follow the path God has given me! I have learned that we do not make our path in life…we are to follow the path God has given us!

  28. Valerie Kowaluk

    I have been using materials from your website for years and always wondered about how you came to do it. I thought I was supposed to be a doctor, but God had other plans for me. He used my plan to bring me around to His and it was a wonderful journey. The oldest of six, there was always a younger sib that needed help with something. After college I “explored” many careers and opportunities, but it wasn’t until I stepped into a classroom as a sub that my spirit found peace. Ah! This is home. After 22 years in the classroom, I just retired due to health issues. I am still teaching at my church though and looking forward to the next step. I know now what I didn’t 30 years ago — if you are called to teach, you WILL teach no matter where you are!

  29. I believe in myself because I know I am loved and I achieve my dream by expecting the hard way ahead and taking one bite at a time.

  30. Isn’t it great that life’s journey doesn’t proceed in a straight line. Today there are so many opportunities to fulfill yourself in ways previous generations didn’t. I love to learn and I continue to take classes in all area of learning and I believe I will be learning and taking classes for the rest of my life.

  31. I believe in my self and achieve my dreams by having positive self talk, and reflecting on all of the things I have been able to accomplish in the past.

    Thanks for the chance to win!
    wildorchid985 at gmail dot com

  32. Knowing that I had to pay for my graduate degree (and undergraduate), I worked as many as 3 jobs while going to school full time. It was hard, but it was worth it! Thanks kmassman gmail

  33. I believe in myself with the power of prayer and positive thinking! These things can help you achieve anything!

  34. I always wanted to be a teacher. Two weeks before I graduated high school life through me a curve and I was diagnosed with Lupus. I wasn’t able to go to college then or later, but later as a wife and mom (a dream I didn’t even know I had) I have fulfilled that dream. I “teach”, though it may be life lessons, without a degree.


  35. I became a mom at for the first time at 18 and though I had lost out on my dream of becoming a nurse. It took years but with lots of dedication I finally was able to graduate from nursing school.

    lisalmg25 at gmail dot com

  36. My dreams have changed so many times as my life experiences have changed me. The dreams I had as a high school graduate are far from what I have achieved as a now senior citizen. I still have some things on my list, but they are goals rather than dreams.

  37. No matter what the obstacles and there are many, I believe in myself and have picked myself up and keep striving for my dreams

  38. I fell in love with my hubby the 1st time I met him at age 16. We were married 6 days before I turned 20 even though our families said we should wait. Over 20 years later we are happy and so glad we didn’t wait. Do what makes you happy is my motto!

  39. I believe in myself and achieve my dreams by understanding that what I have to contribute is of value and by surrounding myself with positive thoughts and, better yet, positive, supportive friends. I also write out inspirational quotes each week and place them around the house as a reminder that I can reach my goals. :)

  40. 25 years ago I didn’t think I could sing, but I took singing lessons, joined two choirs and have been singing ever since.
    Thanks for the contest.

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