Suzie Lak, a 2nd grade teacher in Pinellas County, Florida, is a National Board Certified Teacher and Teacher Consultant/Leadership Council member of the Tampa Bay Area Writing Project. Suzie, who has a teacher website and a classroom blog, says she continues to learn from other educators about how to be the best educator she can be.
Why do I teach? I teach because I wake up every day and work towards Mahatma Gandhi’s command, “Be the change that you wish to see in the world.” I teach because if I make the difference in the life of one little boy or girl, I have made an impact on the world. I teach because I wake up each day excited to see the smiling faces of children who are hungry for knowledge, children who allow me to serve as their guide.
I am beyond fortunate. I grew up in the household of the top-notch educator who was my inspiration, support system, personal motivator and my first teacher–my mother. She helped guide me on my path to teaching through her gentle nature, creativity and passion for supporting children. This was the first Professional Development I ever received, a daily showcase of best practices through her devotion to the teaching profession.
But I also believe that I may have been born with an “educator gene.” My earliest memories revolve around working with children and my love of the classroom. When I was eleven, I persuaded the Red Cross to let me into a babysitting class even though I was a year younger than the minimum age level. I worked as a nanny, camp counselor and swim instructor before landing my dream job as a teacher. I have now been teaching for eight years, and my passion for education continues to drive me forward.
I’m privileged to have found incredible guidance in my journey. Through my certification process as a National Board Certified Teacher, I learned the value of reflection and continual growth. The Tampa Bay Area Writing Project (part of the National Writing Project), taught me that teachers learn best from other teachers. I learned the value of teamwork and collaboration while gaining both an understanding of the K-12 continuum and meaningful strategies to integrate writing across the curriculum. My approach as an educator is forever evolving because of this professional development.
The best advice I have is “Never stop learning.” If you ever decide you know everything, you truly aren’t learning anymore, and that means you are moving backward. I set very high expectations for my students and use a host of strategies daily so my students will exceed these expectations. I believe the best educators are the teachers who are also willing to be students themselves, open to changing with the times in order to advance their own education. They allow themselves to learn, evolve and be transformed.
Why do I teach? So I can “be the change,” one child at a time.