Q&A: NC State education major Alex Atchison
Posted February 10
Hometown: Petoskey, Mich./Hickory, N.C.
Major/minor: Elementary Education Major
What made you want to become a teacher?
I always knew that I wanted a career in which I could work with and help people. Originally I was planning on going into rehabilitation therapy until my father told me that working with children brings out the best possible version of me, and from that point on a really couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else with my future.
Why did you choose N.C. State?
NCSU college of Education has a reputation of going above and beyond to support their students in the journey to become educators and so far they are living up to this expectation.
What is your dream teaching job?
Right now I am interning in a local Kindergarten classroom and I feel like I have found my niche. I love seeing the kiddos passion for learning and their genuine love and kindness for others. I feel right at home among 5 year olds in other words and would love to be able to teach this grade in the future.
After graduation, do you plan to teach in North Carolina or another state?
I am definitely keeping my options open about where I am going to teach, I feel like where I get a job will be a big factor. I would like to ultimately like to go ‘home’ to the Mid-West but will most likely end up staying in NC at least until I get some teaching experience under my belt.
When deciding where you’d like to teach, what factor is most important to you and why? (salary, location, etc.)
I would say where I can get a job in a school system where I can not only support myself but continue to LOVE what I do. Monetary reasons are, as I think many of my classmates would agree, the LAST thing considered about this career choice. I know that I am getting into teaching because working with children is my passion thus I believe becoming an educator is my true calling. Personally, my desires to leave NC are based solely on the fact that I still view the North as home but I do know many young teachers consider leaving the state to be able to support themselves.
Do you have any concerns about becoming a teacher?
I worry almost daily that I will not be a good teacher because it is such an important job. I want to be able to put the children at the center of their educational experiences and create an environment where EVERY child feels capable, valued, and loves to learn. I am worried that the increasing amount of testing and pressures will take away from this experience. I hope that I will be able to find a balance between the crucial academic aspect of school and the, equally as important, social curriculum.
Enrollment in teacher education programs in the UNC System has declined 30 percent since 2010. What do you think can be done to encourage more people to become teachers?
I think that there is such a negative perception of people going into the field of education. I think this social stigma needs to be addressed! Teachers are some of the most dedicated, passionate, and enduring individuals I know. Part of this view of teachers does come from negative attention that teaching receives. No one wants to go into a profession where they are constantly hearing things like “I wish I was in education; it must be so easy” or the fear that you will burn out within the first few years. I think there needs to be some changes to the system but I also think someone needs to talk about how rewarding and influential teaching is.
Is there anything else you’d like to add?
I want to get into teaching because I love who I am when working with children. I may not be getting payed very much in the traditional sense but I am looking forward to an emotional bank account filled with love, learning, and "teacher candy moments."