Hello! My name is Mary-Helen Helms and I am from Greensboro, NC. I am a second year senior, middle grades education major with concentrations in math and science. When I think about my future career and all of the goals that I would like to achieve, I cannot help but to think back to my childhood and the impact that it had on me. All I needed for entertainment were my dolls and other stuffed animals, computer paper and the static from the television screen, the ironing board, and a bar stool. I placed my stuffed animals and dolls in a row along the front of our living room couch – these were my students. I used the static from our television screen to hang computer paper, doing my best to create my own white board, and I used our ironing board and a bar stool as my desk and chair. I would start the day by collecting everyone’s homework, which led me into the lessons for that day and the assessment immediately following. Education is a very common occupation within my family, so it’s not extremely farfetched that this career path would soon become evident in my personality as well.
I have several passions – some of which include diversity, inclusion and leadership. Because I feel strongly about all of these things, I am a firm believer that in order to see a change in anything, I have to be the change. To me, this does not mean immediate success – it means learning how to take a failure and turn it into a success by treating it as a learning opportunity. Middle school was a difficult time for me. At first, I saw these difficulties as major setbacks, however, now, I see through my accomplishments that these things helped me get where I am now. I had very supportive teachers who were there for me – this is when I recognized that I really had a passion for education.
Education is more than relaying enough information to get students through school. It is about passion, guidance, patience and compassion. In order to get students excited about learning, the teacher has to exhibit that excitement first. Students have to be encouraged and cared for, and shown that education is not solely about what is in the textbooks – it’s about the world around them as well. This is the type of teacher that I want to be. I want students to know that once they understand the material in a way that works for them, understanding the tests will follow.
Because of this, among other reasons, I chose to attend Appalachian State University for my undergraduate degree. My favorite and most supportive teachers have also attended Appalachian. Appalachian has given me so many opportunities as a pre-service teacher that I don’t believe I would have gotten elsewhere. I currently hold multiple leadership positions on campus that are continuously shaping me into a better person. Not only are they allowing me to gain experience as a leader, but they are giving me the opportunity to incorporate my other passions – diversity and inclusion – and allowing me to work with others, as I will in the future as an educator.
I cannot see any other career allowing me to incorporate my passions the way that education will. Appalachian was the only school I applied to – it was my top choice two years ago and still is. If I were given an opportunity to go back and relive the last years of high school again, I cannot see myself making a different decision. This university is a university that will help me go above and beyond the goals that I have set for myself, personally and professionally, and I am so grateful for that.
Senior, middle grades education