Dear First-Year Teacher: You are My Hero

I am so proud of you!! You did it. By the time you read this, you would have completed your first day or even first week of school. Much has changed since I completed my pre-service training in 2000. You are considered the next generation of teachers; getting here must have been quite an exciting journey for you, but I know it wasn’t easy. Education students today find that it’s harder to become proficient; there’s more to study, more to learn, more to practice.

With that said, you are truly my hero. That’s right. My hero!! You may be thinking, “why?” A little voice in your head may be saying, you don’t even know me. Here’s what I do know-

You are my hero because you have willingly entered a profession knowing that there are challenges, some beyond your control. You’ve heard the dreaded teacher lounge stories of the lengthy hours, the imaginary weekends, the classroom management, the parent management, the education policies that continue to get more and more preposterous, the miniscule paychecks, and you signed up anyway! You’re here because you want to make a lasting impact on kids; you see the power of teaching and how it can shape the future and change lives forever! Yes, you are my superhero.


When the journey gets rough, and it will, don’t give up. Know that you have support and colleagues who too have traveled down that same bumpy road. When you feel like all is lost, find a colleague, preferably a veteran or mentor teacher, to whom you can express your frustrations. Just remember, every teacher has been a first-year teacher. Every teacher has gone through some of the same struggles or obstacles you are trying to overcome. As you go through this first year journey, I promise, you will find that validation for your feelings and support from other teachers will get you through those rough days.

Hilly Road

Before long, you will be hashing out those wonderful fresh ideas that I admire about you. Don’t second-guess yourself. Trust yourself. Don’t discount what you bring to the classroom. You have probed, researched, trained diligently through student teaching, and independently endeavored through personal and professional development. You can do this!! You are overflowing with cool ideas and new ways of doing things. Some of your ideas will be masterpieces, while others might fall into a sink hole, but don’t let that discourage you from generating those awesome concepts. Our profession needs them! Your students need them! The universe needs them!

Remember, nothing about teaching or education is one-size fits all. Every child is unique. Every teacher is diverse. Every school is different. Teaching changes from one day to the next and authenticity matters to kids, so be your authentic self. Instead of a scripted worksheet, show your kids your passion; you will have a captivated audience.

So don’t let the journey ahead scare you. Don’t panic. Remember that feeling you had when you use to play pretend school? That’s still you. The only difference is now it’s one hundred times more gratifying and exhilarating when you live it in real life. You matter. We need you.

On behalf of all veteran teachers everywhere, we salute you! We are on this crazy expedition with you, the bumps and all. I hope you are excited to start your journey as a teacher. Just think: you may have the future president sitting in your classroom. You are now part of the greatest profession in the world. Congratulations! Here’s to a great school year! We believe in you!




Treva Jenkins

Treva Jenkins

Phoenix, Arizona

My name is Treva Jenkins and I am an Arizona Master Teacher. My journey into education did not begin right away. After college, I spent several years in the United States Army as a Military Intelligence Officer. I learned a great deal and the knowledge and experience gained from the military was priceless, but my heart yearned to work with young people. After leaving the military, I began to pursue a career in education by working at a very special charter school for at-risk youth. This experience shaped my educational philosophy; this is when I truly fell in love with teaching. I eventually received my post-baccalaureate and a Master’s degree in Education Reform and Intervention from Ottawa University. I am currently teaching at a Title I public school in the Maricopa Unified School District. Each year, I get the privilege of teaching an amazing group of 7th grade students. My love and passion is helping my students discover the exhilarating world of English, Language Arts. Not only do I get to teach an extraordinary group of 7th graders every year, I am a mentor teacher. As a mentor teacher, I have the wonderful opportunity of helping beginning teachers find success and gratification in their new work. I understand that being a lifelong learner is a core responsibility of my profession. Currently, I am a candidate for National Board Teacher Certification. The journey into becoming a National Board Certified Teacher has truly changed my teaching practice. The process helps to inform my practice, to become a better teacher, and to reflect on what I do in the classroom.
I have been teaching for over 16 years and the greatest inspiration is my students. I am also experiencing the best of both worlds, a type of educational utopia: helping my students discover their true potential and providing support to our valuable beginning teachers. There’s a passage from the Bible that I keep close to my heart when I am reflecting on my teaching experiences. The author writes, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Regardless of the many trials we may face in education today, platforms like this one provide hope for educators who want to have a voice on issues that really matter to them. I look forward to sharing my stories with you and hearing your feedback, experiences and opinions on policies impacting the classroom. Remember, “education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela

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