What is your "why"?

By Jameelah Wright


Jameelah R. Wright, graduate of Douglass College at Rutgers University holds a degree in Sociology.  Jameelah currently works at Three Stages Learning Center as the Head Teacher and Assistant Director of the prekindergarten program . In addition to being an early childhood educator, Jameelah is also a reading specialist, teacher consultant, mentor, and a parent educator. In 2003 she founded The Urban Flower Project  (www.theurbanflowerproject.org), a nonprofit which provides professional development for early childhood and elementary teachers in best practices, and promotes family literacy for parents of birth to school-age children. She is also a proud member of Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc. 

"Jason wants to know what motivates you." That's the statement, uttered from my husband, referencing his friend, that had me stymied. Part of the confusion was that I didn't really know the context in which Jason made his inquiry regarding my motivation. When I asked my husband for clarification, he said "What makes you want to do the things you do: teaching, Girl Scouts, the gifted and talented program, etc.?"

He was asking about my "Why?”  The irony is that as a mentor to new teachers and a coach to seasoned teachers, I often ask them about their "Why?" and yet, here I was caught off guard by the very same question. Every teacher I have ever lead has been encouraged to be a self-reflective practitioner, but do I practice what I preach?

Sitting quietly in my office, I scribbled in my journal to organize my thoughts. For a week I scratched away in that notebook, peeling back layer after layer until I came to the realization that I do what I do because I am supposed to. I teach because it flows through me organically. I have known since I was three years old that I would be a teacher. Watching my grandmother work with young children, and also having wonderful teachers (I can name them all from pre-k to high school) made it so I could never seriously consider another career choice. Playing "school" with my cousins and friends, and even my baby dolls, has deeply encoded Teacher in my DNA. There is no other way for me. 

So, Jason, and anybody else reading this: I am motivated by the sheer will and determination to complete the task for which I was called...and to shape a few lives along the way. What is your why?