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Rich Henderson's Diary
The First 180 Days

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Curriculum CenterRich Henderson, a lawyer, always dreamed of being a teacher. Last year, he gave up his law career and returned to the classroom to earn his teaching certification. This year, his dream finally comes true in a fifth-grade classroom in suburban Woodbury, Connecticut. Each week during this school year -- Rich's first year in the classroom -- he will share with Education World readers his thoughts and feelings about his first 180 days!

August 24, 2000

My name is Rich Henderson, and I teach fifth grade. For several years, I have wanted to say that I am a teacher, but until recently, the idea of being a teacher was simply a dream.

It was a dream that I had often thought about but failed to pursue for one reason or another. I would constantly think about teaching, but that is as far as it would ever go. So, just as often as I entertained the idea of being a teacher, I would always pack up the desire and store it away for some future consideration. Yet, each time I did that, I hoped that maybe one day I wouldn't have to put away the dream any longer.

About 16 months ago, that day finally came, and I enrolled in a teaching program. My dream of teaching was quickly becoming a reality.

I took the long way to get to this point. After graduating from Southern Connecticut State University with a B.S. in business, I went straight into law school at Quinnipiac University. Since graduating from law school, I have worked both as a court clerk and in private practice. Last year, I left my job and enrolled in Sacred Heart University's education program. As part of that program, I spent the entire academic year as a graduate education intern in a suburban elementary school in Shelton, Connecticut. As an intern, I was placed in the role of a substitute teacher on a daily basis. What an incredible experience that was for me! I gained a greater appreciation of the role that the teacher plays in the lives of each of his or her students. After that experience, I knew that I had made the right decision in changing my career.

Now, in only three weeks, I will begin my teaching career in a fifth-grade classroom at Mitchell Elementary School. Mitchell Elementary, located in Woodbury, Connecticut, is a K-5 public school with about 600 students. Woodbury is a small suburban town located about 100 miles north of New York City. I will take my insight, education, and experiences into a classroom of twenty-three students.

It was a long route to becoming a teacher but one that was certainly worth the wait.

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08/24/2000