Well, normally I try to have these posts done at the beginning or middle of the month, but due to readjusting to being a college student once again, I’m afraid I got a little bit behind. With that being said, it seems fitting to announce that September’s Dreamer of the Month segment is going to be shining a light on the people spending countless hours to stand up at the other end of the classroom while we take notes… our teachers! While I’m only focusing on one lovely educator in particular, I just want to express my deep appreciation for all those with the motivation, patience, and let’s face it, at times, pure courage it takes to say yes to the career of molding minds, from young to old.
I have been wanting to talk with my friend, Mary Ann Lively for quite some time now, and I’m so excited that she agreed to let me interview her for this post! A piece of personal history for you… Mary and I have been friends since high school and were planning on rooming together our first semester at college. While God ended up having a different direction planned for me than I originally thought and we ended up at separate schools, over the years, Mary has never failed to lend me a non-judgmental, listening ear and an encouraging smile when I needed it (She and her sister also introduced me to the Titanic film after years of refusing to watch it…thanks again for that heart breaking night, guys haha).
Okay friends, at this time, let’s talk to Miss Lively about what her experiences have been like in pursuing her dream of being a teacher so far:
Name: Mary Ann Lively
Profile: Currently working as a kindergarten teacher
Location: Athens, Ohio
Favorite Quote: “You? You’re awesome! You were made that way! You were made from love, to be loved, to spread love! Love is Loud!” ~Kid President
Unlike me and my constantly changing mind, I remember you wanting to be a teacher from pretty early on in the whole college-decision-making process… Do you know what first inspired you to pursue education as a career?
Yes! I have wanted to be a teacher for almost my entire life it feels like, haha. My first grade teacher’s name was Mrs. Hoffman and I remember even at the young age of 6 how wonderful she was and she inspired me to be a teacher honestly from then on. I remember Mrs. Hoffman being such an amazing picture of grace, and kindness and second chances every time her students would walk through the door, while also instilling a fierce love for learning at the same time. She treated every student the exact same way. When you walked through her door she greeted you with a warm smile and kindness that always just let you know that she was on your side. And she always pushed students to be the best versions of themselves, both academically, and personally. As a teacher now, Mrs. Hoffman is still leading by example just as much as she did when I was in her classroom, 18 years ago (gulp!).
I have only worked with large quantities of children a few times in my life, and let’s just say… I’d like to keep it that way! Haha! It’s not that I don’t like kids, I just felt like I had zero control over the situations, and I knew I was not cut out for that position. I feel like teachers are super heroes most of the time!
With that being said, do you have anything specific that helps keep you motivated every day? Or maybe helps you to maintain a certain level of patience?
Truly I think my faith is the driving force behind my patience and my motivation. Haha! Honestly, there are days and situations that I know that if I had to rely on myself for patience I would have run out of the school crying. I start every single day praying for kindness, grace, and patience. I serve a faithful Father who hasn’t failed me in this yet, and where I end, and where I am at the end of my rope, He is there with what I need to keep me moving forward.
Also, I think that seeing my students thrive, and learn, and overcome things in their lives and in the classroom – that was once so challenging – is truly something that motivates me daily. If there is one moment of triumph in my classroom, that is worth all the moments of frustrations. This sounds so cliché and I know it does, but it is the truth. It is really hard to watch a kid struggle with anything. Be that learning to read, or trying to make a new friend, or even follow the rules. When they are losing faith in themselves it is a hard situation to deal with, and as their teacher and an adult is hard to not just fix it. But, when I see them learn something new, and beam with pride, knowing that THEY overcame, worked hard, and achieved, WOW WOW WOW. You just can’t get enough of that.
That’s so awesome! And, I love that you brought up praying for kindness, grace and patience – I definitely need that reminder sometimes.
I know you must have tons of crazy stories – I mean, the honesty of children can be pure magic sometimes! Do you have a favorite memory so far?
This is my third year of teaching and there are so many memories that just bring me tears of joy, and tears of sorrow, and stories that make me laugh just thinking about them. One of my favorite stories is my first day at my new job last year I had a kindergartener run out of my classroom, run down the entire hallway and shut himself in the school trophy case that was being cleaned out and restocked for the coming school year. I was terrified, embarrassed, and honestly kid of angry, and my student thought it was the funniest thing ever. That was until he realized that when he had shut himself into the trophy case the case’s door had locked and there was no way to get out. I hung my head in shame as I walked up to the principal (can I remind you again this was my first day on the job) and explained to her the situation. She had to call 3 custodians, trying to track down the key to the trophy case, meanwhile my student is on the brink of panicking, and I am seriously considering the fact that I may be fired. Haha. However, all is well that ends well, we got my student out of the trophy case and I still had a job, and now I have a funny story to tell at all my family reunions.
How would you say achieving this dream has already shaped you – or maybe even prepared you for any future endeavors you hope to pursue?
Wow! Good question. I have probably made this statement 100 times since I have started teaching, and I will probably make it 1,000,000 more before I retire… But teaching kindergarten is such a lesson in grace. In the best ways and even kind of in some hard ways. When I started teaching, right out of college, I (stupidly) thought I kind of had it all figured out already. I was a lesson planning queen, a classroom management queen, I could handle the toughest situation with patience every time, while also teaching all of the learning standards, and of course having amazing, Pinterest- inspired bulletin boards, that changed weekly. ( I hope you are noting my extreme sarcasm, insert eye-roll here) …But my first year hit me hard when I realized that there were challenges that I couldn’t control, situations that I wasn’t prepared for, and no matter how hard I tried things did not always ( actually, usually didn’t) turn out as planned. In these moments I learned to give myself grace. I know, and am comforted by the fact that I am doing what I was meant to do. Things are not always perfect, and that is okay. There is grace, and there is a tomorrow to start again and try again.
Another, and I would argue an even more amazing picture of grace, is what I see through my students. I am not a perfect teacher (have I proven that to you yet?! Haha) There are days where I get frustrated, days I am cranky, days I don’t feel I am doing my best, and just plain old no good days, sometimes. We all have them, they are not fun, but they are there. Without fail, when I am at my worst, my students show me grace and love that I am far from deserving. They show up every day, walk through the door with a smile and a “Good Morning!” no matter my flaws, or faults. It is such a lesson that I need daily, and they remind me of without even realizing. I don’t know if they even realize the good that this does for my spirit, but it is so, so good. I don’t know how this will really prepare me for future endeavors, but this is continuing to prepare me for life, I think.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone highly considering going into education, or just wanting to follow their dreams in general, what would it be?
Do it! Do it Do it Do it! I feel like for some reason teaching is a job that so many people try to talk you out of. (Heck, I still have people that I will randomly meet who try to talk me out of teaching!) I will never understand this because I think that the job teachers do is so so soooo important. I think I would make this statement even if I wasn’t a teacher. Teaching is so much more than abc’s and 123’s. Sometimes this is the first place where children are exposed to an adult who is rooting for them, it could be the first time they discover their life’s passion (I’m a prime example, shout out to little first grade Mary Ann), this is where they make friends, and make memories, and learn good lessons, and hard lessons, and overcome trials, and tragedies, and learn how to deal with conflict and learn about forgiveness… while also learning their ABC’s and their 123’s , I guess. Children need adults and teachers in their lives who are passionate about what they do and if there is a seed in your heart that says you should teach and make a difference in the lives of children in this way then by denying that, you would be doing a disservice to yourself and all of the children whose lives you could form and reach.
So good… a big, apple-flavored THANK YOU to our Dreamer/Teacher of the Month here at ADI… really Mary, I admire you bunches, and you taking the time to do this interview is truly appreciated. And, to any other readers who happen to be in this position, as well, thank you! You are awesome, keep pursuing your dream… you are truly the reason many of us are able to pursue ours.