Kristin Ray

Elementary School Teacher

Growing up, I never really thought too much about teaching. Initially, I really wanted to be in advertising. I loved watching the show “Who’s the Boss” when I was young, and I wanted to be a marketing executive just like Angela Bower in the show.

As time went on, I was quite the job hopper before I chose teaching as my career. I had multiple roles and different occupations, but never felt too happy or passionate about them. A major turning point occurred when I was working in Chicago. I had a conversation with a friend on my way home from work that would totally change my professional trajectory.

He asked me, “If you could go back and pursue any career you wanted, what would it be?” I told him that I always loved watching my friends work on their elementary projects for their college classes, and I always wished that I had acquired a degree in elementary education like them.

Despite my belief that it was too late for me to change career directions, I followed his advice. In order to earn my master’s degree in education, I attended classes in the evenings in downtown Chicago. It was a lot of hard work and long days but I’m so glad I made the decision to pursue a career I’m passionate about. If I had maintained my earlier beliefs that I was “too old” to make a career move, I may have never reached my full potential.

As a fifth-grade elementary school teacher, I love that I can inspire my students, celebrate their mistakes and encourage them to take risks, even if they don’t succeed the first time. One of my favorite parts of each school day is greeting my students at the door in the morning. I am honored to be someone they can rely on to help them through the hard times and laugh with them through the good times.

I truly believe if you find a job that makes you happy, you’ll never work a day in your life. If teaching in elementary school is that job, you must have patience and love kids. This means seeing the good in all kids and finding strengths in every student. Everyone has the ability to succeed, it just takes a little work to build those relationships and find what drives each individual.