When did you know you wanted to be a teacher? (Part 2)

Shannon Cadden

LearnZillion Dream Team Coach

As a child, I loved helping my mother, a dedicated elementary teacher, decorate and set up her classroom each year. I also played “school” with any friend that would willingly participate in my lessons. Maybe other people could see that I was meant to be a teacher, but I didn’t discover that for a while.

While working with children in camps and volunteer programs in college, I found great joy and passion for helping young people, so I changed directions professionally and pursued a Master’s Degree in Education.

While I knew that teaching young people would be both joyous and difficult, I wanted to be a part of teaching a child to do something for the first time. Teaching first graders to read is such a magical experience! Often students begin the school year only knowing how to read a few short words, but by the end of the year they leave with the ability to read an entire book independently. Watching this metamorphosis year after after year kept me motivated to work harder and create new learning experiences for these budding readers.


Sharlee Hatch

LearnZillion Dream Team Coach

I strongly disliked school as a kid, so the idea of teaching never even crossed my mind. As a senior in high school, I took an "elementary mentoring" class because I liked kids. Much to my surprise, I didn't just fall in love with the kids, I fell in love with teaching. I got to help first graders start the year with learning sight words and by the end of the year they were reading entire books and passages to me.

My last name is Hatch, so I called my students my "Hatchlings." It was a mascot and class motto for us, since hatchlings persevere. That's what I loved about teaching. I loved my "Hatchlings," all of our little classroom inside jokes, the strong community we built, and watching them persevere until they succeeded.

The biggest impact teaching had on me was teaching me how to learn myself. I found that I truly mastered my knowledge of specific content when I taught it. That has been the gift that keeps on giving. In my classroom, I always tried to teach my students to teach themselves and then each other, because that one thing has given me so much. 


Susan Serenari

LearnZillion Dream Team Coach

I knew I wanted to be a teacher since first grade. I grew up surrounded by educators, and my father was the superintendent of my school district. Between sporting events and school functions, I was surrounded by the "school community." I played "school" and "library" at home regularly. 

Virtually every job I've ever had has been teaching or working with children. I love being around children because of their energy, perspective, and desire to learn! I’ve had and still have so many positive role models in my education. I can only hope that I can serve as a role model for the lives I touch and for my own children.

I love teaching because everyday is a new day! There are days you feel like you make very little impact, and others where you feel like you've conquered a quest with one child on their learning journey. That's a really rewarding day!

Teaching allows me to learn and grow as a professional and as a wife, mother, sister, and friend. As I reflect each day, I know that the next day will give me more opportunities to improve on what I've done the day before. 

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Nicki James

LearnZillion Dream Team Coach

I was working as a summer camp director in Florida. While I sat at lunch with my coworkers (most of whom were teachers), I listened to them talk about how exciting it would be to meet their new students in a couple of weeks. They talked about how they created environments where their students felt safe, and how they incorporated character training into their teaching. I think that’s when I realized that teachers were much more than academic instructors. And I realized that's where I would have my greatest impact on kids’ lives.

I also used to help my aunt set up her classroom when I was a kid, and even though I missed summer camp and playing with my friends all day, it was the highlight of my summer. I loved the fresh crayons, the clean desks, the math manipulatives, and the name tags. More than that, she was and is one of the most amazing, understanding, and wise people I know. She had a way of telling me what I didn't like to hear that made me want to be better. I wanted to be that awesome.

It didn't matter how tired, annoyed, or overwhelmed I was while teaching, I worked hard every day for one thing: the look in kids’ eyes when learning made them more confident little beings. It's kind of like a high, when kids totally rock something they have failed at so many times. It's like watching them choose a life path towards greatness and you're part of that, forever!

Laura Coscarelli is the Community Engagement Manager at LearnZillion. When she feels like going offline, she hikes in a skirt.

Emily Priborkin is the Marketing Communications Associate at LearnZillion. A musical theatre nerd at heart, she'll gladly recite and perform all of the music from Les Misérables on command.

Education Teaching Dream Team