Inspiration comes in many forms, and from many different people. Inspiration is like the wind, an inhalation of grace, a refreshing glimpse of sehenzucht. With so many diverse ways to be inspired, and with so many people to be the muses, how can I choose just one source of inspiration?
I was inspired to become an English teacher by my seventh grade English teacher, Ms. Robinson. She made English--a subject I already enjoyed--into my calling through her enthusiasm, support, and encouragement. She made literature, grammar, and writing into the building blocks of my desire to become a teacher like her. Learning was fun and interesting in her class. I don't know if she counts as a colleague, technically, since I never taught with her...but she was teaching in the same district when I subbed one day at my old high school, so I'm going to count it. While she was not the only source of inspiration during my high school years, she was the impetus.
College brought a new group of muses into my life. My professors in the English department at Evangel University inspired me in my quest to become an English teacher--people like Sandy Vekasy, Marilyn Quigley, and Pansy Collins. They gave me knowledge and skills and tools I still use every day in my teaching. They showed me how to become the teacher I wanted to become, all the while breathing continued life into the desire to be a teacher to my students like they were to me. Now, I can't technically count them as colleagues because I didn't teach at Evangel--unless you count the tutoring I did in the Write Place or the Basic English lab I taught as part of my major. So... I'm going to count it.
My first "real" teaching job after graduating was at Grace Christian Academy on Saipan, an island in the Pacific. My fellow teachers there were definitely inspirational. I saw my colleagues there give with missionary fervor so much of their time, passion, and knowledge. One such person was Mary Kinsella. She was a great help to me, especially my first year. According to her students, she was a tough teacher, but fair. I was a new teacher, and her advice to me about classroom management and how to build rapport with my students was an inspiration to me.
When I returned to Missouri after four years overseas, I got a job at Carthage High School, in Carthage, MO. Once again I was surrounded by inspirational colleagues like Caroline, Donna, and Cathy. The inspiration I received from them and others in that faculty helped me grow as a teacher. They helped me learn how to put together curriculum and work with Common Assessments to help our students learn. I was blessed to have worked with them for three years, and in that time I was inspired any number of times and in any number of ways.
Now that I've been teaching at Buffalo High School for eleven years, I cannot count the times I have been inspired by my colleagues. Their diligence, their dedication, their desire to give the best education they can to the students we've been given is a daily inspiration. My colleagues inspire me with how much they sacrificially give. Each of them has inspired me, from Jill's work ethic to Laura's ability to connect with the students to Gayle's willingness to help everyone. I could easily pick my most inspirational colleague from among them.
My colleagues are my muses. I look to them daily for inspiration about how to make my lessons interesting and content-filled. I see the extra work they do before, during, and after school to help the students and community we serve. We're all working at inspiring our students to become the productive members of our society we know they can be. How do I choose just one of my colleagues when I have been shaped by so many? So, I don't. I choose them all. Like the old saying goes, it takes a village... and my colleagues have been a large part of that village in my own life.