This week’s feature is Sepi Ika, a sixth grade teacher at Sunset View Elementary.  Sepi’s parents moved here from Tonga and placed a great importance on her education. Sepi sees her students as the future leaders of the world and is excited to be part of preparing them for that future. Here is what she wrote about teaching.

Why I Teach…

by Sepi Ika

What do you want to be when you grow up? Awe—one of the typical “first day of school” questions students answer each year. Some students know exactly what they want to be, some are still undecided, and others have no clue! Before each new school year I found myself thinking of this question. What did I want to be when I grow up? I wanted to have an answer, with an awesome life plan—but unfortunately, I did not! I even graduated from high school still unsure of my career path. However, have no fear! With a little persistence, optimism, and guidance things work out! Fast forward a few years, and here I am enjoying teaching 6th grade!

(Essay continued below video.)

I teach because of my family! We do everything together! Whenever someone has a sporting event, we’re there. If someone has a performance, we’re there! When there’s work to be done, we’re there. My parents both come from the Pacific island of Tonga. While they both always had what they needed growing up, it was a modest and humble lifestyle. Both of my parents decided that coming to the U.S. would be the best way to provide a better future for their children. Through the challenges, and experiences of raising a family in a new country I have learned so much from my parents. Hard work, determination, persistence, a love for learning, and helping others are just a few. Education is very important to my family, and I feel that I can best share that through teaching! What a great opportunity to foster a love of learning and growth that can impact children for many years!

I teach because many educators have helped me! My parents were always eager to help my siblings and I in school. If we needed something, my parents would figure out a way to make it happen. However, being from another country meant that this was the first time my parents had helped kids with school in America. At times they weren’t always sure of the best way to help, but there was always a teacher willing to lend my parents a hand. A teacher would take the time to listen to my parents’ thoughts and concerns, and give clarification and suggestions. A teacher that would validate the talents my siblings and I brought to the table, and share ideas on ways to build on those strengths to continually improve. Essentially, there were many teachers who cared not only about my success in the classroom, but in in life as well. Having these amazing teachers help my family and I enjoy education has led me to what to be that teacher for others as well. I’m not perfect, but thankfully teaching gives me the opportunity to help others. I’m grateful for those teachers whose advice, preparation, and time has made a world of a difference for me.

I teach because my students are the future. Each student that walks into my classroom has limitless potential. The children of today are the future teachers, doctors, mechanics, leaders, and the list goes on. If I can help in some small way to help children prepare for a lifetime of learning and service, it is through teaching. I would not be here today if it were not for the many mentors I have had along the way! Teaching is an opportunity to help give back to so many who believed in me! While the future is uncertain, we can do our best to prepare now! Teaching is how I can help prepare children for the future. Yet, my own preparation for the future is strengthened as I too, learn from my students every day.

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