The horrific tragedy of September 11th forced me to become an educator. I was working for UC Santa Cruz in their events departments and making real money. But the hours were often long, the work was very physical, and the head of the events departments believed that the reward of a job came at the end of the month in the form of a paycheck. Then one day, as I was busy setting up some dean’s party, over 3,000 people died in a terrorist attack. I came home that day, lit some red white and blue candles and thought long and hard about the brevity of life and what I valued. The next day woke up and started a new journey in my life. I was going to be a teacher.
Look, I wasn’t meant to go to college. Growing up, my large family was poor and lived in section eight apartments. I have vivid memories of the excitement, each holiday season when the local charities would bring food boxes to my house. Mom was a waitress and dad, who did not graduate high school, was a janitor. Needless to say, I didn’t much help with my homework. College was never talked about in my house. My dad wanted me to eventually take over his custodial job, and for awhile I worked with him, cleaning up all kinds of messes. It was a horrible job, and I stayed with it for several years after high school. The adventure of college was just not part story for me.
My journey, from cleaning vomit off floors to putting myself through college and graduating from UC Santa Cruz, came with allies, mentors, challenges, defeats, and victories. It was truly an adventure. No one else in my family had gone to college, and I needed all the help I could get. I even bought my own, the first computer, which was like having magic. When I discovered Campbell's "The Hero's Journey" I found I was on the right path to my own Hero's quest.
I am not joking when I say that students are heroes. I have been in their shoes. Their challenges of their home life added to the rigors of school life are not easy. Each student is on their path and it is my goal to help them along their journey
As Campbell once said, "In the cave you fear to enter, is the treasure that you seek."