By Ms. RoSean Howard, Mentor at Parkhill Academy
I teach at HOPE Online Learning Academy Co-Op. My Learning Center is Parkhill Academy in Denver, where I am a mentor/educator for the high school classroom.
I truly love what I do! The staff here is loving and connected to our students. They encourage me and validate what I do. Here I am able to get to know each of my students, which helps me make an impact on their futures. I am able to use my 15 years of teaching, and my many years of employment experience in finance, general accounting, warehouse management and clerical, to help prepare my students for real world experiences.
Many of my students have obstacles that students in other schools do not encounter. I have a deep understanding of how to direct and comfort their fears and weaknesses. I was taken from my family at age six. I bounced around in both foster and group homes and was blessed to have adults in my life, such as social workers and foster parents, who showed me kindness and taught me to stay true to my values and my culture. That is my connection to students. They may feel a sense of loneliness or low self-esteem, and I share tiny bits of my story as needed. I show them they can be happy with little belongings, they can be rich in creativity and they can feel self-worth by taking care of others.
Being happy at what I do keeps me healthy and young-at-heart. Some days students need extra attention because they struggle with homelessness, hunger, family problems and health issues but they are always reminded that they have skills other people may never experience and they are able to find ways to function with less. When I remind them of this skill, some have been immediately empowered. Others show their strength and growth later, even weeks later, by sharing their stories with peers or even repeating my words at very appropriate times.
My students will become great and powerful people as adults! I can see it, even if they often can’t even see themselves. They are full of ideas and abilities. I love them, but I know I have a very short time with them, even some just a year left, and I will let these birds fly. I believe every one of my students will make major contributions to the next generation because they carry many struggles. I teach because they connect with me and that opens the academic doors for curiosity that keeps me going.