Each day during Teacher Appreciation Week, Spectrum is sharing the stories of teachers and how they view the work of Adventist education.
Rosie Oabel is an elementary school teacher in British Columbia, Canada, and Katelyn Nieman is a multigrade K–8 teacher in Michigan.
Can you tell me a little bit about your background and what inspired you to become a teacher?
Rosie: I was born and raised in Toronto, Ontario, where I attended Crawford Adventist Academy. I then moved to Lacombe, Alberta, to attend Burman University, where I obtained my bachelor of education-elementary teacher. My inspiration to become a teacher are the teachers who taught me growing up. Throughout my formative years, the love, care, grace, and compassion they showed to all students by their words and example influenced me to pursue a career in education.
Katelyn: My family is full of educators, from my grandparents on my father's side, my mother, and many cousins. I was always fond of my teachers and have looked up to many of them. I remember as a child helping my mother set up her classroom year after year, thinking this was not the life for me. It wasn't until high school and being a big sister in the Big Brothers Big Sisters program that it hit me how much I loved helping kids learn.
How long have you been teaching, and what subjects and grade levels do you specialize in?
Rosie: I have been a teacher for the last seven years. I have been a homeroom teacher for students from kindergarten to grade three, teaching all subjects. I have also taught music up to grade six. My favorite subjects to teach are language arts, social studies, and visual arts.
Katelyn: I have been teaching for nine years as a multigrade teacher. I have taught grades K–8. I love teaching math and Bible.
Why did you choose to work in Adventist education? What do you appreciate most about it?
Rosie: Being in a Christian environment where I can talk and share about God and the Bible is the main reason why I chose to stay and teach in the Adventist system. I have seen students' behavior change for the better when teaching them the values and beliefs of our Christian faith. I also enjoy working with colleagues who not only encourage you emotionally but spiritually also.
Katelyn: Adventist education chose me. I love teaching students about Jesus.
How do you balance your personal life with your teaching responsibilities?
Rosie: When I am home at the end of each day, I make sure that I set aside some "me time," which is setting aside some time to do an activity I enjoy. Often it is cooking a delicious meal for dinner or baking some sweet treats. Other times, it's reading a few chapters in the book I am currently reading, working on an art or craft project like macramé and drawing, or watching my favorite DIY or travel YouTubers. My in-school tip would be: if you can, eat your lunch away from your workspace/desk. Eat with another coworker, other students, or even by yourself. This gives you time to enjoy a meal without worrying or thinking about what you need to do next.
Katelyn: Balancing personal life and work responsibilities is hard and I wish I could say I have mastered it. I am a work in progress. However, something that has helped me is setting up boundaries, from how long I allow myself to stay after school to how much work I take home. I also make it a priority to do something I love weekly. It’s not easy, but I value being the best version of myself for my students, and that requires balance.
How do you stay motivated and inspired as a teacher, especially during challenging times?
Rosie: Celebrating how far you and the students have come. Take time to show appreciation of the progress of each child whether it be academically, behaviorally, or spiritually outside of report cards or parent-teacher meetings.
Katelyn: How don't I stay motivated and inspired? I keep a pile of letters and cards my students have given me over the years. Some from teacher appreciation weeks, some for birthdays, and others for just being a teacher. These cards not only remind me why I teach but they resurface at all the right moments. When times are challenging, I read them and I am reminded of the impact that I make daily.
Raquel Mentor is the associate digital editor for Spectrum.
Photo courtesy of Rosie Oabel.
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