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Part of what I love about teaching is autonomy. I love that I can build unique and creative lessons based on what I can do, and what the kids can do and like. I enjoy creating something from scratch and then implementing it. Sometimes I fail. Sometimes, my ideas are more of a success than I realized. Sometimes, I start an idea to implement, but my brilliant students take the idea and make it better. I am the teacher, but the kids are my collaborators.

It is like running a business–each day, I come in early and check data to see how everyone is doing, the kids come in an hour later and some are in great moods, others are ready for lunch, some don’t like each other, some work together really well, but we all have a reason for why we are doing this. For me, I have to keep this business afloat and performing highly, otherwise I am out of a job. For the students, who serve as volunteers in this business, are in it for different reasons–whether it is to better themselves as people, to take a nap in a safe place, to impress all their friends by knowing all the answers, to make their parents happy…no person’s reason is the same.

The students care very much about our “business” but I have to care the most. If our business fails, they get to move on and out of the world, while I would have to suffer the ultimate consequences. I would never get to follow my passion and build the community of learners that I worked on for years, and the funding for my physical space was pocket money that I will never get back.

I watched my mom live her childhood dream of opening a community theatre where they put on stage plays and gave acting classes to kids of all ages. She jumped in with both feet, her passion for arts education driving her through the sticky parts. She stumbled through the first year, learning as she went, with major roadblocks everyday. She worked with loads of volunteers, some whose missions did not align with her own, but she figured it out. She kept reminding herself that this was her dream and that no one could take it from her.

I watched her struggle with learning in-depth skills like accounting, arts administration, negotiating, networking, and marketing. I watched her toy with free website apps like Weebly and Wix, annoyed at the fact that she could design something better, she just didn’t know how. This was on top of teaching acting and technical theatre to kids who needed a creative outlet to feel at home. This was also on top of having a husband, two daughters, and two dogs.

Five years after she officially opened her theatre, her accounting skills were good enough to see that her beloved company was broke. More than broke. So broke, that it made it obvious how her town felt about non-profit arts organizations, and she wondered how society could function without the arts. It was odd to think that her passion had taken her on this wild adventure of learning and creating, and it came to a jolted end, and told her to “please lift the handlebars, watch your step and have a great day.”

As a teacher, I want everyone to live their dream. I want to grab the moon and stars and put them on a gold platter for everyone I love, but I can’t, because I know that they have to do it on their own if they want to grow or learn at all. After watching my mom struggle with some of the tech stuff at her theatre, I have decided to start working toward my dream: opening my own web design business for non-profit arts organizations.

Do I know anything about web design? Not really, but I am a fast reader and an avid learner with enough grit. Am I fueled by passion? Yes. Don’t I know it is going to be hard? Yes and I am ready for it!

I have working on challenges at CodeSchool, reading through HackDesign, and just started the Web Designer Blueprint Skillcrush course. And for an real book (not online), Graphic Design for non-designers by Tony Seddon and Jane Waterhouse is excellent.

Here is a sneak peek at my personal website’s “mood board” which is essentially a design board for my website.