History Has Its Eyes on You, Part 2

This is part two of a two-part series of blogs written by Beth Maloney and me.

Beth told you in the first part of the series about what we have in common. We are both immigrants to Arizona, passionate and persistent educators, and lovers of musical theater and arts education. The idea for this blog came to me as I watched Hamilton play out on stage this past June. I teared up listening to the cast sing about how lucky we are to be alive right now at a time when history is happening. It was a lively and spirited song, not one that would normally produce such strong emotions. Yet there I was with the events from the spring still fresh on my mind, reflecting on how lucky I was to be part of history in the making.

History is happening in Arizona. I’ve seen multiple headlines saying that Arizona is “ground zero” in a fight for education funding. I’ve read articles that highlight the national focus on Arizona during this election. History does have its eyes on us. Who is going to tell our story and what will it look like?

We are at a crossroad and it is frightening!

I completed my bachelor’s degree in 1991 and entered the teaching profession. I was content with going into a profession in the public service. I believed I had “job security.” No one was ever going to replace a qualified human teacher with a machine. I also had decent benefits and retirement options.

Fast forward to 2018. I’m teaching in a rural school and living in a community that I love. But I sometimes wake up in the middle of the night wracked with anxiety because I see how the lack of funding and the mandating of testing has affected the focus of education. As an arts educator, I’ve always felt the necessity to advocate for my subject area and to highlight the advantages students gain from a high-quality experience. Only in the last few years have I wondered what I would do if there is no longer a teaching position anywhere for an elementary music teacher.

The events that took place in Arizona education in the spring and summer of 2018 demonstrated our ability and willingness to rise up, defend our profession and advocate for the needs of our students. My friend Karla Palafox blogs about finding her own purpose and advocating for students. There are multiple ways you can share your passion and persistence. Find what works for you and dive into it.

The revolutionary army was in a very similar position to educators. They were severely underfunded and expected to produce exceptional results. Yet, they persisted. There were losses that were unimaginable and wins that could not have been predicted. Once independence was achieved, the process of building a new nation was messy and difficult. The process looks much like the NBPTS Architecture of Accomplished teaching. Set worthy goals, plan and implement strategies for achieving those goals, assess the outcome and set another goal. We take what we have, strive to improve it and keep moving forward to a better tomorrow.

So what can we do?

Smile More
Rise Up!
Don’t throw away our shots
Look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now
Push away the unimaginable
Look for a mind at work
Summon all the courage we require
Raise a glass to freedom
Write like we’re running out of time
Want to be in the room where it happens
Get the job done
…tell our story.

History has its eyes on you!


Susan Collins

I began my teaching career in 1991 in rural Mississippi. I served in 4 different communities in central and north Mississippi as a music educator, mostly elementary general music with one year as a middle school band director. I stepped out of working full time in the classroom for 9 years when my children were very young but never left teaching. I set up an early childhood music studio and taught music for children ages birth to age 5 (with an adult caregiver). I moved to in northwest rural Arizona in 2016 where I teach k-5 general music.

I achieved National Board Certification in the fall of 2016 and began my relationship with the Arizona K12 Center for Professional Development. I have served as a 2017-18 Arizona Hope Street Group Teacher Fellow and a Candidate Support Provider for National Board Candidates. I am passionate about advocating for the needs of rural schools and ensuring that every student receives an excellent education provided by passionate and qualified educators.

When I am not teaching, advocating, or writing about education issues, I am outdoors with my teenage children. I love hiking, reading, and going to musical performances. I can usually be found off the grid pondering my next writing piece!

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