A New Beginning: Dauna Easley, Author of Teachers Touch Eternity, Shares Her End-of-the-School-Year Thoughts

Article excerpt

Fast approaching is one of the most satisfying times of the year for a teacher. Within the next few weeks, we will watch proudly as our seniors graduate. We'll witness that meaningful moment when all of our efforts on their behalf come to a positive climax. For some students, the path to a diploma has been a breathtaking roller coaster ride, as they maneuvered the summits and pitfalls of life and learning. These are the great moments, and many of us have to quickly wipe away a tear.

But as the graduation speaker reminds us, a commencement is a beginning. What do great teachers know? Never stop teaching when they graduate. This, I believe, is one of the ways in which career technical educators shine. We don't stop teaching when they graduate. We're programmed by our profession to do periodic follow-up phone calls with our students and their employers.

But our ties go far beyond simple requirements. In fact, I believe I've done some of my very best "teaching" after my students have graduated. Why? As a career teacher, I'm lucky to share a passion for a profession with my students.

I love to teach, and I get to share that enthusiasm for teaching with my Teacher Academy students. They've chosen my profession because they're also excited about it. That gives us some very important things in common. As they progress in their postsecondary education, they continue to contact me for advice about teaching. I actively encourage this connection.

Recently, one of my students was applying for acceptance into the college of education at her university. She asked me to look over the essay she had written and make suggestions. I was happy to comply. That same young lady reciprocated by coming home to stand with our Teacher Academy display board during freshman orientation while I was out of town attending a student competition.

Growing and Sharing

My former students also help to keep my current curriculum up to date. I ask them about the parts of my class that proved to be most helpful to them and seek their advice for ways I can improve what I offer. I ask them to recommend good college classes for me as I continue to update my own licensure. My current students read one book per quarter about teaching, and my graduates often e-mail me from college to recommend a great book they've read there. Recent graduates also make fabulous guest speakers for my current students. They talk to them about college life, finding scholarships, financing college and great programs sponsored by their universities. They make wonderful coaches for current students preparing for competitions. They are particularly effective because they are close in age to my current students.

This year I extended an invitation to all of last year's graduates to meet me for a casual holiday dinner at a local restaurant. It was such a success that I know I'll repeat it every year. All but two students attended. Remember how excited you were to see your former classmates the first time you came home from college? I capitalized on that. We had a great time comparing notes about college life and reconnecting. …