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Why I Want To Be A Teacher June 14, 2007

Posted by flyingsirkus in Academia, Who Am I?.

Here’s an essay I wrote today for admission to the College of Education at Nevada State College.

Why I Want to Be A Teacher, by Kristina Raisinbran

There is a real and contagious condition that a child must be infected with in order to understand what it is to be a success in life.  This condition is called a Love of Learning, and I am a firm believer in its communicability.  I am also afflicted with this condition, and I want to become a teacher in order to expose as many children as possible to its life-changing side-effects, including a passion for asking questions and finding answers, an awareness of the underlying beauty in the world, a zest for the written and spoken word, and a desire to be a contributing member of a progressive society aimed at cultivating the greater good.

There is a tremendous need to reach a community of children who face tough challenges in almost every aspect of their public lives.  These are the children of our immigrant community.  Many of these children are uprooted without warning from their comfortable home countries, where they were surrounded by the friends and family who have been constant figures in their lives since birth, and taken on frightening journeys into the United States, where they live lives of social isolation.  They do not speak the language and are shunned by their American peers, and because of the risks of deportation are not allowed far from the home.  Their poverty and differentness are brought into sharp contrast with their schoolmates’ new wardrobes and fancy Lunchables.

I received my Associate’s degree in Florida, where I saw firsthand the challenges the immigrant child faces, especially in regards to standardized testing.  These students were taught just enough English to get a job at McDonalds, since passing a state-level English proficiency test meant they qualified to take the Florida Comprehensive Assessment Test.  Teachers did not want these students taking the FCAT, since their lower scores would bring down the school’s grade and therefore cut the school’s funding.  I watched these children in academic limbo, being babysat in computer labs but not being taught English at a level where they would be competitive in any but the lowest of service industry jobs.

These are bright children, with interests like any other child’s.  These are children who are reachable, but they must be approached by someone whom they can trust, who doesn’t bore them, and who has clear rules and expectations.  I am multilingual.  I play guitar and draw passably.  I have a deep interest in science, theatre, and the arts. I am not afraid of classroom discipline.  And I know I can make learning fun.  My students and I would all walk out of my classroom better people.

I had the great fortune of being taught by three incredible langauge teachers.  John Mueller, my first German teacher, taught me the difference between speaking a language and communicating in one.  Leonid Kobyljanec, my Russian teacher,  taught me to value cultural differences and to have a tremendous amount of fun with incredibly difficult subject matter.  Antonio Spezia di Montespina, my Italian professor, taught me to immerse myself in language body and soul through exposure to his analysis of how Italians think based on their Roman history.  I’d use all the tools these teachers have graciously equipped me with and more in order to give these children a lesson in a subject they’ll never be formally taught: the value of intellectual freedom.



1. cocoabliss - June 18, 2007

bravo! you’re a teacher already!

2. Robert Schuhl - September 13, 2009

I have to wonder if your Russian teacher, Leonid Kobyljance, is the same one who was my English teacher when I was in junior high school back in 1977. He was definitely an inspiration to me and helped me get through a hard time in my life. I wonder now where he is and hope he is still bringing inspiration to his students. So much Robin Williams reminds me of him so whenever I see Robin, I think about Mr. K as we affectionately knew him.

flyingsirkus - September 13, 2009

Robert, I’m sure it was the same person. When he was my Russian teacher in 1993 and 1994, he was probably in his early fifties. I hope that doesn’t make you feel old; my husband graduated high school in 1977, if that makes you feel a little better. 🙂 Mr. K also reminds me a lot of Robin Williams. He shares his animated enthusiasm for living what he loves. I love to remember him on the very first day that I met him, going around the room teaching us in total immersion-style to introduce ourselves. With his fist banging on his heart, he’d launch himself at each student, grinning from ear to ear, and in a voice just barely below a happy shout he’d cry, “meen YA ZAvoot LeoNEED VladiMIROVICH KOBYLJANEC! kak VASS zavoot?” I have tried to find him in the Virginia Beach City School directory, but I have not had any success and I have not searched for him recently. If you ever find him, please let me know.

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