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      Checkered Background

        An Autobiography

        Jeremiah Sanders

EDUC 111: Introduction to Teaching

        Professor Eastman

        January 10, 2011
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       Throughout my life I have faced numerous obstacles. In life, there are multiple ways a

person can handle tragedies and victories. In any case a person must be responsible for his or her

actions. I believe all of the struggles and blessings are what have shaped me to be the person that

I am. I know that, with the checkered past I have, I will be able to make a significant impact on a

student’s life. I am striving to be an educator because of my passion to not only serve, but to

change lives.
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       The city of Marion is a nest to American icons including, Jim Davis (the creator of

Garfield), James Dean (actor), and silver medal Olympic skaters Wayne and Natalie Seybold. It

was also the site where Julia Roberts (actress) and Lyle Lovett (singer) decided to marry. Marion

has been a place where perseverance, commitment, courage, and never settling for less than your

best have been important values that enrich the community. On December 24th, 1991, I was born

to Jennifer Sanders and Richie King Sr. in Marion. Over the years I have been self-motivated to

become a teacher because through empowerment a teacher can be a positive force that helps

students become model citizens of the world; and without teachers, the leaders of tomorrow

would not be enlightened.

       My childhood is epitomized by of my inquisitive nature, my wonder of people’s singing

ability, and influences from popular culture from elementary through middle school. During the

first grade, I realized I wanted to be a teacher because they were in charge. My attitude, then,

was seemingly more mature than most of the other kids and to them, I was bossy. I frequently

stated with agitation, “I am not bossy, I just opinionated,” although then my grammar and

pronunciation of the word opinionated were slurred. In the early years of my academic career, I

was under the impression that teachers were vicious dictators, and were supposed to be in control

of their class. I learned through my first grade teacher’s actions that totalitarianism was not the

purpose of teaching; it is the hope to educate tomorrow’s leaders. My dreams of becoming a

teacher only blossomed with the years after my first grade discovery. The more classes I was a

part of, the more influential the teachers were, and they quietly impacted my life.

       Although elementary seemed to be a pleasant time, some of the negative aspects have

helped me develop into the person I am today. Growing up in a single-parent, low-income home

is one aspect. In addition, both of my siblings were born prematurely and had a great deal of
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complications. With no father figure in my home and being the oldest of three, I had to assume

responsibility. Much of my childhood merely faded away. Before I began school, my mother was

deemed unfit to take care of my brother and sister and they went to live in a foster home sixty

miles away from my home. Because my mother became severely depressed, I spent the majority

of my time with my grandmother, who maintained a factory job and did her best to support me in

all ways possible. My brother and sister were removed, and nothing was explained to me. I had a

piece ripped away from me. Through the next four years of my life I lived in confusion with

mixed emotions and no ways to release them except singing at local churches.

       I went through many changes that were only the beginning of a long line of troubles. I

was assaulted by a relative multiple times during my second and third grade years. This altered

the way I perceived people at a young age. My perception of other’s integrity shifted. I never felt

safe through those difficult years of my childhood. Because I was never a trouble maker, my

teacher never suspected anything was wrong, other than my change of behavior when my

classmates broke my comfort level.

       In any case, my teacher was a kind person; I knew that she had a lot on her hands and I

felt like she was too busy to handle my concerns. I felt invaluable during most of my life because

I had no strong trust levels with anyone, especially my teacher. It became easy to hide things

from family because I learned to ride the emotional roller coaster life had already granted me.

As I reminisce, this deepens my desire to become an educator. If I can get my students to trust

me by guaranteeing them compassion, unlike other teachers who seem consumed with

themselves, I can then help students accomplish an array of things. I understand the extra weight

students tend to carry. Bringing baggage, previously mention, to school at a young age was very

wearisome and I was often depressed. At all costs, I attempted to maintain my charade.
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       Around this time, my brother had moved back home and began first grade. My sister was

not as lucky as my brother because she had a tragic accident; she went into a coma for several

weeks and was declared as a human vegetable. The stories from the foster parents were

imprecise and no actions were taken against them for being responsible for this unbelievable

occurrence. After awaking from the coma, my sister had to relearn many basic things and the

doctors were very doubtful about how much she would be able to recover after her awful

accident. She later learned how to talk but her ability to use her legs never came to her again. My

sister would be in a wheelchair for the rest of her life.

       Middle school was a better time, in a sense, because there were more opportunities to be

involved. I began to escape my discontentment with home by joining organizations. In the fifth

grade, I decided education would be a better path than the route a fraction of my family members

had chosen. I felt a million times better during middle school because there were more diverse

faces. After the school board announced my middle school would be closing, I was deeply

depressed. I had so many new accomplishments and had worked with developing many of my

insecurities. The next school I went to had me terrified. I had no desire to attend this school;

however, I learned rapidly that the change was for the better and I was exposed to another

population of people which helped me grow.

       At McCulloch middle school I reconnected with my aspiration to become a teacher. I

attended many more activities, and through these I found I had a strong connection to music. I

also had a natural talent and took an accelerated orchestra class. My eighth grade year of school,

being a part of student council, I participated in a job shadow for a day. After that day I knew I

was all about being a music educator.
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       Through the course of middle school, I learned several values that I would not have

normally learned through my family unit. I gained quite a few of friends who helped me obtain a

different world perspective. I was able to experience more because of my friends and teachers. I

was optimistic about life in general and believed that being hopeful would allow for various

blessings. While attending school, I received multiple awards rewarding my kindness towards

others and my charismatic demeanor. Being recognized by numerous organizations throughout

my school and community was exceptionally honorable. The Evening Exchange Club presented

me with one of only four awards that were given that year. Assuming a leadership role in my

school as a model student was also something to take pride in.

       At age fourteen, I went on to Marion High School. Being a freshman was immensely

frightening. I was a foreigner to a new building and a new atmosphere. The summer before I

began school, my aunt died. Dealing with this was difficult for members of my family, but I

learned to replace sadness with emptiness. I was also encouraged to audition for an elite singing

group; I took this opportunity quickly and accomplished a secure spot in this group.

       For a brief time I transferred to an even bigger school in Indianapolis, Indiana. I did not

like this school, and only lasted three days before I was moved back to Marion with a relative.

Broad Ripple High School was known for their performing arts magnet. Either way, I was

strongly discouraged from joining any activities that related to this department. In one of my

auditions an educator had the audacity to say I was not good enough and I never would be able to

be match up with any of her programs. For the first time in my life my leaders were the negative

entities in the public school system. My counselor even discouraged me from taking classes of

academic rigor. A wise teacher told me to move back to wherever I was from and she sent a
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letter home to my mother explaining how good natured I was and how I would be capitulated by

the negative atmosphere of the misguided students. I then re-enrolled in my old high school.

        Going to school at Marion high school was sometimes a struggle. I love attending my

honors courses, but I was not achieving my full potential because there was not as much support

as previous years. Mainly, the school I was attending had a hard time keeping their graduation

rate up and assisting students with passing standardize tests. With this burden laid upon the

faculty, they no longer kept the value of helping every learning style. I struggled with some of

my classes because of the adjustment from my middle school learning community to the larger

high school setting. I decided to join the outside group of Upward Bound at Indiana Wesleyan

University to help me with my classes. Upward Bound provided me with free tutoring, a summer

program in which students take courses in future subjects and other services. With this group

now acting as an advocate for me I started to sustain myself in my course work. I learned many

skills via this organization.

        I participated in over eighteen organizations that molded me into the person I am today.

Because my family unit was broken I wanted to fill the void by avoiding the obvious problems. I

then believed if I could escape home, then I would feel better. By not dealing with my issues, I

created a more detrimental environment for myself. Hard times were often unbearable and I

contemplated committing suicide. My sophomore year things started getting slightly better. My

mother moved back with my brother and sister. We tried to recover, but my family was struck by

another tragedy when my handicapped sister, who had endured so much in her 14 years of life,

breathed her last breath on August 14th, 2007. For the first time I had a complete breakdown.
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       Not knowing where to pick up the pieces, I struggled with managing my school work and

I seriously considered dropping out. A problem with life is that it only takes a couple of bad

things to completely demolish all of the positive things. Lucky for me, the organizations I was in

such as Upward Bound and 26th Street Innovations show choir helped me recuperate. What I

needed most at this life changing time was purpose. I am blessed in having found constructive

individuals who took the time to service, comfort, and relieve some of the pressures I was

dealing with.

       My junior year was better. I was asked to be co-dance captain in Show Choir. This kept

me busy! It also helped me get exposed to actually working with students. I was thrilled about

my position because essentially I was second in command. Upward Bound helped me see

countless things: with this organization I was able to go to Washington, D.C., a number of

museums as well as network with people within the Indiana Department of Education and other

legislators. Junior year was one of my most victorious years of school. I won many awards in:

Academic Summer Student of the Year, Citizenship, Outstanding Performer, and Star Student

(physics and music). I was impressed with myself and all along I was gaining a principle I will

use in my future teacher career, no student has to be a product of their environment.

        Continuing my senior year successfully was a struggle with teenage angst kicking in.

This year was my last year to get it all in and make it all count. Instead of graduating with

honors, as I intended, I graduated with a regular diploma, but I was satisfied with myself. Over

four years, I had proved many wrong. I would graduate in the top thirty percent of my class. I

have had many tragic events happen to me and I lived through them; I took mostly all honors,

dual credited, and advance placement classes; I assumed leadership amidst an unstable living

environment. The greatest achievement for me has been going to college. With the type of life I
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have lived through, many spectators have questioned how a first generation, low socio-economic

African American male has had so many achievements and has been able to go to college with

scholarships. I have managed to not be a product of my environment and I have broken a

stereotype society assigns.

       Life is a sequences of events in which awaits a person’s response. My life has been a

mixture trying obstacles as well as positive outcomes. I am both blessed and excited to be able to

pursue post-secondary education and I want to give back to all kinds of student; to enrich their

lives culturally and emotionally. Being a native of Marion, I have gained these three traits

perseverance, commitment, and courage; furthermore, I would like to incorporate them with the

skills and resources Manchester College has provide me to become an influential and positive

force in whatever community I am called to.

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