By Alison Bailin Batz
The state Office of Economic Opportunity reports that Arizona will add more than 543,000 new jobs by 2026, while adding another million residents in the process.
And guess what?
Education is expected to create the highest number of new jobs – along with health care – by 2026.
We sat down with a wide variety of leaders in the education field to learn what inspired them to get into “the noblest profession,” as it is often nicknamed.
“I was born into this profession: My grandmother pioneered the open classroom model and my father, aunts and sister have also found callings as teachers. The life-changing mentors I had throughout my academic career and the impact they made on my life solidified my desire to do the same for others. I have a performance background and joke with my students that teaching is a great means for me to get all the attention I selfishly crave until showbiz comes a-callin’. In all seriousness though, being an educator has provided me with a creative outlet for sharing my love of learning with the next generation and sending them into a bigger world as mindful leaders. It’s also led me to strive for my next start in administration!”
-Rick Matheson, teacher at Grayhawk Elementary School
“My mother was an elementary school teacher and education was very important in my home. Higher education was an expectation, not a choice. I always loved learning and was curious about just about everything. When I played with dolls, they were usually my students and we ‘played school.’ I always wanted to be a teacher, but I also grew up in the era when smart, educated girls were usually expected to be nurses, teachers or secretaries. If I were a girl today pondering possibilities, maybe my dream would be that of becoming a doctor, attorney or corporate CEO. Who knows? I studied secondary education with areas of specialization in Social Studies and English and my college degrees are from Indiana University. I have ample coursework and professional development hours far beyond my master’s degree, which I received in 1975. I began my teaching career in 1972 and retired recently. It has been a labor of love for me.”
-Carol Bailin, retired teacher
“My sister is a teacher. I admire her commitment to her students. The thought of being a teacher never crossed my mind. I had done plenty of guest presentations to college classes, but preparing a lecture filled with advice and stories is very different than preparing an 18-week class designed to teach aspiring communicators how to communicate. Thanks to some supportive colleagues encouraging me to take the chance, I can now add college instructor to my resume. Over the past 20 years, I have taught public relations, marketing and social media both in the classroom and online.”
-Abbie S. Fink, adjunct faculty at Arizona State University
“Even though I loved school as a kid, I never wanted to be a teacher. I wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps and have a successful career in the hospitality industry. I attended NAU and have a degree in hotel and restaurant management. After working a variety of jobs in the industry, I woke up one day ready for a change. I shocked everyone including my husband and decided to become a teacher. Quitting my job and heading back to school was the best decision I’ve ever made.”
-Heather Pela, teacher at Desert Springs Elementary School
“Luck, connections, desire. I ran into a guy who had worked for my editor father and was looking to expand the Cronkite School adjunct faculty. (I guess he figured the daughter had learned a thing or two from dad). Editing and teaching became my way of training several generations of reporters to be the best.”
-Christia Gibbons, adjunct faculty at Arizona State University
“Had someone told me 30 years ago that I wasn’t going to be teaching in a classroom, I would not have believed them. After a decade of teaching in non-traditional classrooms, notably as a gifted specialist in the Paradise Valley Unified School District and an academic professional within the Herberger Young Scholars Academy at Arizona State University, that is exactly what ended up happening. After earning my MA in Social and Cultural Pedagogy and MED in Educational Technology from ASU, my passion for analyzing social structures and cultural dynamics to solve societal problems and create positive change for humanity in spaces beyond traditional learning environments led me to my role as an instructional design specialist at EdPlus at ASU. Here, we are disruptors within the dynamic, global landscape of education and we collaboratively remove barriers to higher education by designing and delivering higher education opportunities for a global audience at speed and scale.”
-Erica Bailin-Gavura, instructional design specialist at EdPlus at Arizona State University