When I decided in August 1991 to leave journalism and become a teacher, I had no idea how this ride was going to go.
I did not have formal education training, no student teaching, and no actual experience in the classroom. One week, I was chasing police from crime scene to crime scene, talking with witnesses, or raking school officials over the coals for questionable decisions, and the next, looking face to face at seventh graders.
What I did have were great role models: Joyce Briscoe, Robin Read, Judy Cole, Jim Arnold, Bill Wolffarth, and later Debbie Firstenburg, Charles Usmar, Jack and Carol Nuzum, Kimberly Hearne, among others. They had a zeal for teaching, but also never compromised instruction. I figured if I could do that, then I would do what it took to be a great teacher.
That meant hard work, trial and error, and constant change. I could have stayed at my alma mater in Albuquerque (Manzano High School), but I decided to head to Chandler, Arizona and help start the Advanced Placement English courses at the school. Between myself and Devon Adams, a standard was set and continues to go. I took a brief stint as an assistant principal for a charter school and got to work with a great group of kiddos. Finally, a three year run at Gilbert High School, where my teachers also turned out to be my students.
But could I stop, even with a Masters of Arts in Teaching? Nope…time to move to Portland, Oregon and take on a private urban Catholic school with kiddos dealing with similar issues as those in a urban public school. The lessons never end. Neither does the growth. To quote U2, I still haven’t found, what I am searching for when it comes to education. However, that is the way I believe education should be. There are things that should never change (discipline, rigor, compassion), but there ways we can provide for our students in better ways than we have.
God has a sense of humor. I still was able to write for the Albuquerque Tribune, Albuquerque Journal, and East Valley Tribune to keep my passion of deadlines and writing alive, but also work with some of the best young people around. In a sense, my journalism days were also one of the greatest “classroom” experiences I could have had. I got to know what the real world, so that when I came face to face with students dealing with the real world, I could not run from it nor sugar coat it.
Now that I am going for my second Master’s, this time in Education Technology, I get to take all that I have learned, and mix it with the emerging tech of today, and continue to grow as a teacher and possibly college instructor. I can’t wait.
Cary L. Tyler
Manzano H.S. Class of 1983, New Mexico State 1987, Grand Canyon University, 2010, Boise State University Expected Graduation May 2013