By Tony Parra
There was a common theme expressed during Friday and Saturday’s 2005 Future Educators Association State Conference as to why people want to be teachers. They want to be teachers because they have a passion and a love for it.
High School students from Clovis, Portales, Albuquerque, Las Cruces and other towns from New Mexico got some insight into the responsibilities and duties of a teacher. The conference was held on the campus of Eastern New Mexico University Friday and Saturday.
Erika Watson from Clovis High School said she started teaching at her church, Sandia Baptist, first. She said she used to watch her mom teach and Watson said it interested her. Watson also taught Clovis High School students through a pre-teach program.
“It was wonderful,” Watson said about teaching. Watson chose to teach World War II to Clovis High School students. “I enjoyed researching and helping them learn.”
Like Watson, Amanda Scroggins is following the path of her parents. Scroggins, a Clovis High School senior, said both of her parents are teachers. Bruce Scroggins is a coach at Clovis High School and Leslie Scroggins is a coach for the drill team at Yucca Junior High. Amanda said Leslie taught for 30 years before becoming the drill team coach.
Scroggins also taught at her church and the enjoyment she received from it helped her decide to go into teaching.
“I absolutely loved it,” Scroggins said about teaching. “The conference was beneficial to me because you got an insight as to how different children learn and how you can be a better teacher.”
Ricardo Arredondo, project director of Title V Cooperative, said there were approximately 70 high school students in attendance at the conference. Arredondo said it is the first year that the conference has been held in Portales.
He said the conference was a collaboration of ENMU and Clovis Community College members. Arredondo said in previous years the forum has been held at New Mexico State University and the College of Santa Fe.
Don Elder, history professor at ENMU, said he’s been teaching for 31 years. Elder spoke to the high school students on Saturday morning and posed questions for the students so they can determine what teaching style they want to use. He asked them how they’re going to structure their curriculum and how they would interact with their students. Elder stressed it is also important to have a positive outlook.
“Your outlook on life is going to determine how you teach,” Elder said. “If you have hope in the kids that they can be better or if you are a pessimist and you’re going to imagine the worst. You have to make that choice.”
Michael Hatch was part of the group of Portales High School students who put together a display booth. Hatch, Shelby Ellis and Katanna Ellis were the three members of the group which won first place in the category.
Hatch said he came to the conference to see how he can mesh his personality with a teaching style. He said he wants to attend ENMU after he graduates from high school.
“I’ve been on campus and I like the facilities,” Hatch said.
Caroline Knudson of Portales High School won third place in the essay competition.
Lou Sikes, a Portales teacher, said there are 15 high school students in the FEA (Future Educators of America) chapter of Portales. Many of those high school students were involved in the sessions held on campus.
Sarah Muhlbauer, a Portales High School junior, said she would like to pursue a teaching degree so she can teach pre-kindergarten or early education students.
Tatiana Watson of Gattis Junior High in Clovis was the other Clovis winner. Watson won fourth place in the Impromptu Speaking category.
Maria Elva Vasquez-Cruz who teaches theology at St. Pius High School brought six students from Albuquerque to be part of the conference. Some of her students won the highest honors for different categories from the sessions.
Maria Martinez, a St. Pius High School senior, said she wants to go into teaching or perhaps nursing after she graduates from high school.
“I love helping people,” Martinez said. “Both ways I can help people. I had a lot of fun (at the conference). I got to meet other people who are passionate about teaching.”
Martinez won second place in the essay competition. Maria Armijo another St. Pius High School senior won second place in the Impromptu Speaking category.
“I would like to teach secondary education,” Martinez said. “I hope to be the first person in my family to graduate from college.”