Mariam Khatri

Professor Steven Alvarez

English 110

13 May 2012

Every Stepping Stone

Around the age of ten, my older brother, Waleed,  started to memorize the Quran, a feat that is quite difficult and requires a lot of parental guidance and support. Due to this, my mother spent a lot of time with him, helping him commit to memory the words and revise the previously learned material. My younger brother, Waqas,  and I, were quite young, also requiring a lot of attention from her. She divided her time between taking care of us, helping my older brother and completing house chores. Noticing that she was so stressed out due to the workload on her shoulders, I volunteered to help my younger brother with his homework.

At this time, I was eight years old and in second grade and had mastered the material that my younger brother, Waqas, was learning in his first grade class. Waqas and I would side by side as we completed our homeworks and I would help him out whenever he got stumped by the assigned work. I enjoyed working with him, explaining material to him, feeling proud of myself for having this duty which required responsibility. This pattern of doing homework continued for the four years that my older brother, Waleed, took to complete the memorization.

In school, I also looked for opportunities to help others. In my elementary school, John Bowne P.S. 20, students in fourth grade and beyond, had the opportunity to monitor the lower grades during lunch time.   I leaped at this chance and eagerly signed myself up. Each day during lunch, I would proudly wear my badge and go to work, helping the younger children in their classrooms and doing paperwork for the teacher.

Once in middle school, I did not have any such opportunities but high school changed this. In eleventh grade, I was selected to be a member of the National Honor Society, Arista. To maintain membership in this organization, members were required to tutor students and I did so gladly. Each day during lunch, my tutee and I would meet in a classroom and I would go over material that she had learned in class. I dedicated myself to making her understand the lesson, prepare for tests and then perform well in the class. Every good grade that she received made me feel accomplished and satisfied. These two factors were my motives in pursuing such activities.

Arista members were offered to participate in a program called “Junior Achievements”. Students that attended this, were assigned an elementary grade to teach along with friends, were given a booklet of the lesson plans and then two preparatory classes. I was punctual in attending each class and listened intently to the tips the teacher provided about educating little children. Prior to the day designated to going to the elementary school, my friends and I practiced our lesson in order to ensure that we knew what we were supposed to teach. On the day of this wonderful experience, as my exhausted friends and I were leaving after a full day of teaching, three kindergarteners from the class handed us a card that they had made. In their letter, they wrote, “Dear Ms M, Ms Y, and Ms S. We have fun wit yu tody. Can yu com agin?” and decorated it with flowers and butterflies. This card made the long day spent with these five and six years old worth it. In fact, it made me realize that this is what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, educate others.

The satisfaction and warmth that came from working with others, helping them understand material, pulled me towards such activities. I recognized that helping Waqas, being a monitor and being a High School Hero were all steps on the road to my career. Leadership skills learned when I was a monitor, patience that came along with being a tutor and the creativity that came with presenting a lesson to a kindergarten class are all key components of being an effective teacher and my experiences helped me grasp these traits.

Keeping my career in mind, I volunteered at P.S.20 when I began college and still do today. I work with a teacher for a number of days and then switch to a different class. Volunteering helps me get an idea of the different types of students there are, the behavior of different age groups and techniques to teach and handle different types of children. Also, when I first went back to P.S. 20, I learned that my former fourth grade teacher, is now an Assistant Principal. Reflecting on this, I have decided to not only become a teacher, but also rise in my ranking in the educational system, and aim to secure an administrative position.

At Queens College, I aspire to develop into a talented educator under the guidance of experienced professors such as the chair of the Education department, Mary Greiner, and Gloria. Along with following the guidelines of my teachers’, I will turn to the parents of my students. Family support greatly helps a children propel towards academic excellence. Hoping to teach in Queens, I know that the students that I will have will come from a variety of backgrounds and so will learn to keep an open mind to everything.

I know that the road ahead may be rough, but with dedication, perseverance and determination, one can conquer anything. With the aid of scholarships, I strive to become a devoted teacher one day, imparting my knowledge to students and forming a firm educational foundation for them. Elementary school is the time that many students form their attitude towards school and by being a positive role model, I hope to shape determined students.

Aside from participating in activities geared towards molding my career, I am involved in others such as sewing and swimming. For the past two summers, I have been attending sewing classes. Also, I learned of the Fajr Memorial Foundation, a non-profit organization that is solely for girls, an opportunity that is rare for Muslim girls. Even though I was terrified of the water, I forced myself to attend the classes and slowly, I was able to get around my fear and learn how to swim. Life experiences always come in handy and these activities may be useful one day.

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