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Virginia Journal of Education


On Point

(and Why) I Became an Educator

--By Megan Link

In the interest of full disclosure, I must tell you:  I never wanted to be a teacher.  I did not, as a child, line up rows of dolls or stuffed animals and studiously “play” school. I didn’t patiently teach a younger sibling how to read or to recite multiplication tables. I didn’t yearn for the feel of chalk in my hands, its dust on my clothes, or its squeaky rhythm on the chalkboard. I cannot say, in any humble way, that I was called into this noble profession, took up my educator standard, or otherwise deliberately embarked on this path.

What I can say with certainty is this: I am a true lifelong learner, a forever student. There is not a day that I awake that I’m not hungry to learn something new. I was a precocious and voracious reader, becoming quite good friends with Dick, Jane and Sally (oh, and let’s not forget Spot and Puff.) I devoured the Bobbsey twins books and was so intrigued by the mysteries and perils that beset Nancy Drew that I would pick up three or four titles at the library, only to finish one before bedtime that same evening.

College and graduate school years were gone in a blink, with me dabbling in English, journalism, math, psychology, and student personnel services (a more chi-chi term than guidance and counseling at the time), but nothing seemed to click. I served a single year as a university residence hall advisor and, believe me, one year was more than enough! This was followed by a stint in the world of office work, various positions in retail sales and, once again, office management. It became clear that once these jobs became routine, I quickly got bored and lost interest. 

During my children’s grade school years, I volunteered in classrooms and worked with the PTSO, ultimately serving as that organization’s president. One day the principal said (I think he was joking) that I spent so much time there that they should put me on the payroll. That simple, offhand statement got me thinking.

Within six months, I was employed as an instructional assistant at the primary school, working in K-3 classrooms. It was something of a whirlwind tour in what it’s really like to work in a school. Fortuitously for me, an unexpected opening occurred for a library clerk and, with my penchant for reading and love of a good book, I jumped at the opportunity.

It was my great good fortune to work with two wonderful librarians, one of whom has become a dear friend as well as a mentor. In the library realm, WWJD has come to mean to me, “What would Judy do?”  It was she who encouraged me, nurtured me and, in the end, convinced me to pursue a second master’s degree, this one in School Library Media Services. There were those who thought I was some kind of crazy (me included!) to begin another degree program at the age of 44. But three years later, I was nothing less than stunned and moved when my high school age son and daughter insisted that I “walk” the JMU graduation walk as they wished to see their mother receive her diploma. Who knew?

So here I am, 22 years in the education profession, with almost 16 of them in a public school library. There was that little six-year blip serving as the president of the local education association, truly the education of a lifetime in itself, but now I’m back doing that which I enjoy most and believe I do best, and I get to do it with a colleague who is the yin to my sometimes discordant yang. While I didn’t answer the prompt of some profound inner voice or have my own personal “Road to Damascus” lightning bolt moment, I did come to the realization that the attributes of my own education that most appealed to me, the every- day-brings-something-different and the light-bulb-on moments, were what was missing. 
Teaching is indeed a noble profession. G. K. Chesterson, perhaps, said it best, “Education is simply the soul of a society as it passes from one generation to the next.” Make no mistake; those who commit to teaching wholeheartedly receive as much—if not more—as the students they teach. Interfacing with young people, holding them accountable for their learning (not just what occurs in the classroom, but in the broadest sense) as well as sharing in their successes and failures (both as students and as human beings) not only feeds my soul, but maintains my spirit, keeps me alive in my mind, and gives me hope for the future. This is the priceless gift, one well beyond measure, shared by educators.

Link, a member and past president of the Prince William Education Association, is a librarian at Stonewall Jackson High School.






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