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Teacher Story: ‘Chalk dust in my bones’

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By Amanda Petersen
First Grade Teacher at Basalt Elementary
Mom of Blake and Ayla Petersen

Teaching has been my passion since I can remember. Kindergarten or first grade is probably when my obsession for everything teaching started. It has always been a huge part of my life.  

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My first memory of wanting to be a teacher came in second grade. I was picked by my teacher, Mrs. Nolan, to be the teacher for a lesson using the overhead projector. The memory of standing in front of the class and pretending I was the beautiful, soft spoken teacher that I idolized everyday, is as clear as if it just happened yesterday. I remember so clearly using  the vis-a-vis markers that wrote so smooth with handwriting so neat. Just like I saw my teacher do everyday.  It was up to me, the teacher for the moment, to show my class the correct answers on a worksheet. I loved that moment probably more than all of the recesses combined of my elementary years.

When I was about 7 or 8 my favorite Saturday activity entailed a 20-minute (or more) trip to the teacher store,which I can only remember being far from my home. But my mom knew how much I loved it there so she always made a point to take me. I was instantly in awe of the spiral “teacher” books that filled the shelves. They were soft and floppy with the perfect turn of the page. They were filled with everything teacher — all with directions, lessons and the best part: the answer keys written in red. I bought as many of them as my mom would allow. I would come home and play school for what seemed like hours. I was always the teacher and my friends were always the students. That is probably why I usually ended up playing teacher alone. Those spiral teacher books from the 80s drove my passion and took me to where I am today.

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One of the first comments I ever received from a veteran teacher, when I began my work in an elementary classroom at age 16 was, “You have chalk dust in your bones.”

That meant I was born to be a teacher.  I have always held that compliment close to my heart as my passion for children and helping them learn and grow has never gone away. Now I have my own kids ages 10 and 7. The passion doesn’t always come quite as easily.  But I do know that on a good day, one smile or one hug or one connection with a student who challenges you everyday, makes all of the difference in the world and pushes me to keep on doing what I love to do.

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