Saturday, March 31, 2012

Gratitude Part III

Today I want to celebrate someone who is very special to me. She is the first person that BELIEVE in me when I was on the road to becoming a teacher. Here's the story...But first travel with me back to 1994 to Asuncion, Paraguay: a small country in South America. It was my first year in college, I was an undergrad student and my focus was on English Language Teaching. One of the classes I was taking was American Literature and our professor was Dr. Beth Pfannl. She was an amazing professor whose love for literature was contagious. We were all immersed into this world called "American Literature" Under her guidance, we were learning and reading all the classics: Edgar Allan Poe, Charles Dickens, among other writers who filled our quiet afternoons in a small city in South America.

Several months later that year, Dr. Pfannl told a couple of my friends and I about the opening of "teacher's aide"positions at the American School of Asuncion. I didn't have to think about it too much. I loved and embraced that opportunity with open arms. I left my part time job at the retail store to go and work as an aide. Little did I know at that precise moment how much that opportunity would lead me to some of the most amazing experiences in my life. 

I worked as a teacher's aide while I was going to college at night. This position lead me to work with different American teachers, and in different grade levels. All these years, I was under the guidance and supervision of Dr. Pfannl. She watched me grow and learn what it takes to become an educator. She would send us to amazing educator's convention and conferences because she believed in professional development and growth. She would advocate for us and encourage us to always take a step further toward our professional life. She never looked at any of us as "just teacher's aide," she was preparing us for the future, she was getting us ready to lead our own classroom one day. 

When I finished my undergraduate studies, I was promoted to Teacher's Assistant at the same school. Dr. Pfannl was my first principal, my first mentor, my first Administrator. Little did I know that when I accepted that position as an aide, I would spend the next 7 years of my life learning and growing. I attribute this experience as the number 1 factor that helped me shaped the professional mind I have today. That experience taught me that we always have room to grow, we will never achieve perfection and that it should never be the ultimate goal. This experience taught me to be an advocate for myself, and my growth as a always read and reach further understanding. 
Years later, Dr. Pfannl left the American School of Asuncion to become the Head of School  at an American School in Rome, Italy and I left Asuncion, Paraguay to lead my life as an educator in the United States of America. 

Dr. Pfannl, you touched lives in ways you didn't even know. You believed in me when all I had under my belt was my high school education. You believing in me so strongly gave me the courage to believe in myself, in my possibilities even when I didn't think I had other opportunities. Could there ever be enough "Thanks" to fill this world with gratitude for everything you've done? I doubt it...but I thought I had to start I decided it would be here. 
P.S. I don't have a picture in my computer of Dr. Pfannl because those pictures are all back home. But I do have one picture of my years as a teacher's aide. Oh life....sweet life.