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Teaching Educators What it Means to Care

By Eva Ziegler
Club members sharing teaching techniques.

How many teachers have put on a film, or told students to open a book and read instead of working with them and encouraging them? While there are some inspirational, courageous teachers out there worthy of a Hilary Swank Freedom Writers title, there are not enough. 

According to Census.Gov there are 77 million children enrolled in the United States alone. This means 27 percent of our population's future and education depend on its teachers. However, student action has been taken to put quality back into teaching thanks to the Future Teachers of America Club (FTC).

This club, which is at Estrella Mountain Community College (EMCC), works to better future teachers and in turn create a brighter, bolder environment that features teachers who are passionate about their job, and bring excitement into classrooms. From their activities that bring students together, to the constant volunteer work, this club builds hope in both the teaching world and community. So what exactly is it that this club does and who can join?

While the FTC is a club revolving around education, the members come from a variety of different backgrounds and majors. Alex Robertson, Officer At Large, said, “The club is not only for education majors, it is for anyone who wants to have an impact on the community.” The club has everything from nursing majors to engineering majors involved in the community work. Robertson said, “If you think about it, everyone uses teaching in their lives, whether they realize it or not. Anyone can benefit from FTC and that’s why anyone is welcome to join.”

Besides the club's diverse background, the club's main focus is on harboring future inspirational teachers. The club is constantly holding activities that teach the members about inspirational teaching, such as its movie nights. As the movie mentioned before, the club plans on showing a screening of Freedom Writers.

Growing up, the president of the club Nichole Soyka was inspired by movies like Matilda, a film about an intelligent little girl who learns how to control her telekinetic powers from her kind-hearted teacher Miss Honey. Miss Honey became Soykas shining beacon of hope. Soyka said, “We never want our club members to forget what it’s like to be a great teacher so we have screenings of movies that applaud phenomenal teachers.” These film viewings give an influential message to the members.

Soyka said, “Everyone has heard those stories about inspirational teachers who changed everything, but few have actually had one. It’s sad to think that all teachers are not like that. It shouldn’t be rare, it should be common.”

It is for this reason that this club also hosts discussions at its meetings where members talk about what it means to be a teacher. They talk about what else they could give to charity and the next step to changing the world as well. Robertson also hinted that members may receive some of his own fresh-baked cookies as a perk of attending the meetings.

Outside of the meetings, one might be wondering what exactly some of the club's charity work is. One of these volunteer activities is running the Kid-Zone at the Oktoberfest in Mesa. A member of the club, Ian Rey Sausedo said, “I remember one of my favorite things we did was run the Kid-Zone. It felt good making the kids happy and getting to work with them one-on-one.”

Sausedo is just one of the members who wants to be an elementary school teacher and is provided with practice by the volunteer work and outings that the club hosts. When Sausedo described the Oktoberfest in Mesa, images of green grass, face painting, the smell of fresh baked goods, and joyous faces of children were a part of it.

Sausedo said, “It is events like these that keep bringing me back to the club.” The club hosts outings regularly, always giving the students a chance to practice interacting with the youth and complimenting the clubs motto that works to prepare future American teachers.

The club, which takes pride in its volunteer work, also gives middle-school students a tour of the campus once a year. Little activities like this one go a long way in FTC. Nichole Soyka, FTC President, said, “It is all about the experience. It is not about what you get out of it, but what you give out of it.”

When asked about more of the club's volunteer work, Soyka mentioned one activity in particular that was especially generous. She said, “Once a month, FTC goes out to a domestic abuse shelter and helps mentor the kids there. The kids are of all ages and we just help them out with whatever they need, whether it is life advice or just spending time with them.” FTC also holds a hygiene and food drive where they donate all the collected items and money to the shelter.

Robertson also talked about his time at the domestic abuse shelter. He said, “I haven’t always been the best with younger kids, however working at the shelter has made me more comfortable. (Laughing) The kids ask the weirdest questions sometimes. I remember one time one of the kids asked me how to ask a girl out.” Just as Anne Frank said, “No one has ever become poor by giving.” This club certainly follows that quote.

This club makes one wonder, why can not everyone be a Miss Honey? An individual might not be a Miss Honey to the world, but to one person they could be. According to Maci Hansen, a teacher at Lane Community College, “Teachers spend 1.5 billion annually of their own money on school supplies.” Imagine if the whole world practiced this kind of charity.

Through FTC’s heartfelt charity, undying passion for the job, and wildly-fun events this club continues to inspire its members. So why not stop in for a meeting? One might walk in on an adventurous field day with the kids, or one might just sit down and read a quiet book with a child. Either way, a difference will be made in at least one child’s life.