What is a piece of writing that you have done that was very challenging but you were proud of yourself for getting to a final product?
I am incredibly confident in my essay writing skills, and have always excelled in traditional English courses. However, I have always struggled with feelings of self-consciousness when asked to do creative writing, especially poetry. However, this last year I was given a poetry assignment and the process was tedious and made me frustrated. Despite the challenge, I wound up with a poem that I was proud of. I share it with you here, because it is important to share writing, especially in order to overcome the lack of self confidence that all writers feel from time to time. To the Trees by Heidi Cray My feet touched down, as deft as any deer, Upon your mossy mud amidst the wood. Washed white, growth green, or ripe rust red -- I’d near Run on forever. If I only could. The warmth of suns that in my heart would glow, Upon the tops of slopes and trees aloft, Did soar my swampy soul from deep below: Once labored breaths, now calm and soothing soft. But here the raw red only makes me stop, Among the dead who halt their hurried walk. We crowd to cross the current of blacktop, Foul smells and shrieks of horns on every block. I cannot breathe with buildings all around. These hooves weren’t honed for hardened city ground.
What was one time in your life when you felt a deep connection to a piece of literature?
Aah, the smell of the blue line in the morning. I feel nauseous for only a second before my nostrils accept the familiar scent of sweet urine, salty sweat, and bitter coffee — the melting pot of people and scents. Oh man, there’s an open seat. It’s next to a borderline homeless person, probably where the urine scent is centered; but, this is my thirty minutes of free time and it won’t be wasted. I rush towards it — my seat, no one else's. I carefully arrange myself and my bag so half of my butt is off the seat, take my poetry anthology from my bag, and turn to the dog eared page; it’s something Whitman I’ve read before. The train fills up at the next stop and some guy’s Kenneth Cole satchel bumps the back of my head every time the train lurches forwards or halts suddenly. I am distracted by it, the stench of the homeless man beside me, and the two girls in front of me, who discuss how disappointed one is by her engagement ring. By the Western stop I make it through Whitman, and Wordsworth is next. I do my best to shut out the chaos around me. Wordsworth is recalling Tintern Abbey, a tranquil and joyful place from his youth. He considers his life now against this backdrop of happiness and peace, and it reminds him that despite all the shit the world tosses out, there is joy. Not happiness like before, but a quiet and sublime joy in the breathtaking power of the world. I begin to weep. I weep in silence, and I don’t know why. I’m not on a mountain that overlooks a desert landscape. I’m not in the middle of a forest lake where there is nothing but the soft sounds of my paddle as it glides through the calm and mysterious waters. I’m sitting on the blue line on my way to work, amidst the smell of urine, the repetitive noise of the doors as they close at each stop, and the melee of people who scramble to get on and off, for where, I don’t know. But it feels sublime, and I read on.
Why have you decided to go back to school to become an English Teacher?
The best teachers in my life have had a variety of characteristics that made them great, and not one has been the same. However, one thing they all share is the desire to see their students succeed and feel good about themselves as learners. The best teachers put their students’ needs above all else, and take pride in their successes, both large and small. I believe I have the capacity to become one of these great teachers because I have great leadership skills, the ability to adapt and learn, and excellent communication skills. Most importantly; I have a deep desire to share my love of knowledge with others and help them find that love and reach their own personal successes. I come from a family of teachers. My mother teaches High School history and my father was the head of the GED and English departments at Nicolet Area Technical College in Rhinelander, Wisconsin, for most of his career. I saw how stressful and disheartening their work could be, but I also witnessed firsthand how greatly they impacted so many people’s lives for the better. I have also been greatly affected by teachers in my life. As a student who struggled with mental illness in Middle School and High School, I know how important it is to have teachers who are challenging and supportive and truly want to see their students be successful and happy. Without the excellent teachers I had the pleasure of learning from, I never would have made it through High School and reached success in College. My desire to help students find success is just one of the many reasons I am seeking a second degree in teaching English. I also find the subject stimulating and enjoyable. I am an avid reader of literature, and can’t wait to inspire others to find as much joy in written word as I have. It is in books where I have gained the greatest knowledge about myself and the world. I also think a good understanding of the English Language is paramount in everyday existence and can help open many doors in life. I am equally as excited to learn more about English from others while pursuing my degree as I am about teaching it to students afterwards. I possess the ability to be an effective leader and motivator, a skill that others have always recognized in me. I was chosen to be the Captain of my Cross Country Running and Track teams when I was only a sophomore in High School. I am proud to say that I helped a team of just five runners who always finished in the bottom half, grow to a team of 15 that broke school records in my two years as captain. In college, I grasped at every opportunity to lead and encourage my fellow students. I helped people with their studies, watched and critiqued scenes and monologues, directed three one-act plays, and was Scene Shop Foreman. My proudest moment came when I was able to help a fellow student, who had difficulties with reading, perform a scene from A Midsummer Night’s Dream. We practiced for two hours every day for several weeks, and on the day of the performance, he delivered every line flawlessly. He thanked me for being so patient with him and said that he had never felt so confident acting in a scene before. I look forward to learning how to work with all kinds of learners and having opportunities to inspire my students to feel successful. I know that I will be a lifelong learner. I want to learn another language, study different cultures, be able to compose music, and someday even build my own home. I want to learn as much as I can and this passion for learning will transfer into my teaching. What better way to continue my education, than a career that will force me to continue to learn, adapt, and change in order to be effective? What better way to use my knowledge and love of Music, Theatre, History, Psychology, and so many other subjects, than to teach a subject that encompasses them all? What better way to show my appreciation for the opportunities I have been given through education than to give them to others?