This is part of a monthly “Why I Chose Education” series in which NC State College of Education alumni, students, faculty and staff share why they chose education.
When Cherelle Sanders ‘11 was in high school, she wasn’t sure what career she wanted to pursue. She always had a passion for learning and helping others, and one of her favorite activities as a young girl was pretending to teach her stuffed animals and dolls. She also recalls taking books and textbooks to her grandmother’s house during the summers.
However, she also remembers her high school calculus teacher, Mr. Bell, who not only taught the necessary content but explained life lessons and connected the class to the real world, all with a sense of humor. He is one of the reasons Sanders chose to major in mathematics education at NC State. Now, she’s a 6-8 math/science multi-classroom education leader at Martin Millennium Academy in Tarboro, N.C.
When Sanders isn’t working with middle school students in Edgecombe County, she enjoys listening to music, doing karaoke, watching movies, going to museums and spending time with her family. She shares why she chose education, an experience within the college that changed her life and what others should know about the College of Education.
Why I Chose Education: I chose education for many reasons, including childhood experiences. With the support of my mom and my wonderful elementary school teachers, I knew I loved learning and being at school. In middle school, I struggled with being picked on for some things — the way I dressed, physical development, being smart, and fitting in with others. Through all of this, I still managed to keep my education first.
How Education Has Shaped Me: Through education I have learned that flexibility, hard work, time management and helping teachers and students see their worth can lead to rewarding opportunities.
An NC State College of Education Experience That Changed Me: My internship during my senior year was an experience that has changed me. As teachers, we go through educational courses to gather our content and pedagogical knowledge, but it’s the internships that give you that real-life experience. I was placed at a school in Wake County and being from Johnston County Schools all my life, I had no idea of the similarities and differences that were evident in both systems.
What Others Should Know About the NC State College of Education: The College of Education continues to support teachers beyond their educational coursework. They are continuously making adjustments and improvements to the program to prepare teachers who can give their best to students.
The Last Thing I Experienced That Inspired Me: Working with five of my 6th grade students. Many would consider them a class distraction, class clowns or the “it must have been them” group. In looking at their data and how much time they actually spend on-task, there was a major concern. When I first called them up to say that I needed to speak with them, they automatically thought they were in trouble. Once I explained that I wanted them to work in a separate space from everyone else and to chat, they were ready for it.
What they didn’t expect was that it was going to be a lax environment for them to work. They were comfortable, they talked to each other, A LOT (one of the reasons why they are often off-task and become distractions) and they talked to me. In our conversations, we discussed music, other hobbies and interests. We also talked about goals. I shared with them that my goal was to help them be successful now and in the future. And they shared that their goal was to not do a lot of work. But in the space we began to develop a set of guidelines for how they work. They began to hold each other accountable. They set short term goals. They loved just having the few of them. They worked. They met their individual goals.
This experience just reminds me that how we approach education is ever-changing. It is not a one-size fits all model. We, as educators, have to make the decision to do what’s best for kids first. And we are charged with doing that on a daily, on-going basis.