Why did I become a teacher? Because I was a black belt first.
The more I blog, the more I realize how important it is to reflect at three levels: how we got here, what we are doing, and where we want to go. Today I want to share with you my unique story on why I became a teacher.
When I was 10 years old, I started taking taekwondo classes at ATA Martial Arts in Amherst, NH. I joined because my brother was training and other sports never clicked with me. I am grateful every day that my parents signed me up. Over my adolescent years, I gained confidence and public speaking skills. By the time I was 13, I had earned my black belt and began helping my instructors in classes.
The ATA Leadership program helped me find my voice and my love of teaching and has been an instrumental part of my life since. By the time I was in high school, I was an instructor, running classes, communicating with parents and learning the importance of always improving yourself if you are going to help others improve themselves. My instructors were some of my first non-familial role models. Since then, many other ATA instructors have entered my life and helped shape me as a martial artist and as a person.
When I left for college, I picked a school that was close enough in proximity to an ATA school that I would be able to continue my training. Like many college students, I found myself 6 weeks into my freshman year and wanting to change majors. I realized that despite my love of science, a career in engineering didn't seem like a good fit. I reflected on what I was good at and what made me happy. Nothing made me happier than being on the mat, passing on my martial arts knowledge to my students. Because of my years as a martial arts instructor, I declared an education major.
I am now a full time high school teacher, but I have not forgotten how I got here. I continue to teach martial arts at ATA West Chester in Pennsylvania and am so thankful to the instructors and leaders who continue to help me grow. The skills that I learned as a teenage black belt such as how to command attention, maintain professionalism, and have a good handshake are lessons that will always stay with me.
I continue to train and improve myself as a teacher, instructor, and martial artist, and I always will.