Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Work to Love

By Lauren Higgins

“There is never a day when I don’t have a smile on my face,” says Joan Higgins, a teaching assistant at a nearby elementary school. Originally born and raised in Brooklyn, New York, Joan had worked at IBM in Manhattan for eight years as a compensation analyst and benefits advisor. Several years after her daughter was born, she and her husband decided to leave the city and move to the suburbs, where Joan became a stay-at-home mom for a year. As someone who has always loved kids, Joan decided to pursue a career in education and now she cannot imagine doing anything else.

“When we moved in 1999, I began my career as a teaching assistant in the Pearl River School District.” Fourteen years later, Joan expresses what she loves most about teaching children each day. “I have always garnered satisfaction throughout my life offering guidance, providing information and educating others.” She is assigned to assist different grades where she teaches them reading and math each year. Although she likes teaching all students ranging from kindergarten to fourth grade, she especially enjoys teaching the younger students.    

“The innocence never ceases to amaze me. The anecdotes from the students always provide great conversation at dinnertime,” she said. Joan is currently assisting students with math and reading remediation in the first, second and fourth grade. “This is the first year we are introducing the NY Common Core standards in ELA and Math. The younger students are very receptive to this new way of teaching.”

She never gets tired of the expression on the student’s faces when they understand something, because she knows she played a role in their learning experience. Joan recalls a student whom she was working one-on-one with say to her, “If only you could help me at home!” Joan is never impatient; however, it can sometimes be overwhelming when five kids come up to her at once seeking help.

The four words she loves hearing most are “Can you help me?” because she gets gratification in knowing that she helped the students in accomplishing their assignments.                               

Working at an elementary school makes Joan look forward to going to work each day. Over the years she has met several friends along with the numerous students she has the pleasure of teaching. She states, “You have to find a job that you will love. I am fortunate to have a job that I find rewarding every day.”

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