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The Student News Site of High School for Mathematics, Science and Engineering

The Echo

The Student News Site of High School for Mathematics, Science and Engineering

The Echo

The Student News Site of High School for Mathematics, Science and Engineering

The Echo

What Did HSMSE’s Teachers Want to be When They Grew Up?

Addison Saji
Drawing of Ms. Rasuk

Often, when we interact with teachers in school they appear to be superhuman, unchanging beings. This is part of what makes running into teachers outside of school so disorienting; it’s hard to believe they lead real lives. In an attempt to prove that teachers are human with human pasts, I asked them one of the most elementary questions: “What did you want to be when you grew up?” And for more insight, I inquired “Are you happy as a teacher?” Here’s what they had to say.


What did you want to be when you grew up?

Mr. Bartley: “Rich! Just kidding… I wanted to be a gym teacher.” Mr. Bartley loves sports, but as a kid his gym classes were never structured. “I wanted more organized gym classes,” he explains.

Mr. Hershow: “I wanted to be an airline pilot for Pan Am airlines, I love airplanes!” Unfortunately, his mom said he couldn’t be a pilot because of his imperfect vision. “There was no laser eye surgery when I was growing up,” he says.

Ms. Rasuk: “I always wanted to be an architect.” When she was little, Ms. Rasuk would often spy on her older brother, an architect, and admire his models. She later became a working architect, making her the only teacher I conversed with who carried out her childhood dream!

Addison Saji

Santana: “I wanted to have my own cooking show.” Santana explains that she would help a lot in the kitchen as a kid and has always wanted to teach other people. A cooking show seemed like the perfect job! Ms. Rasuk, who is standing next to her, confirms that Santana is an incredible chef.

Mr. Liu: “Hmmm.. a marine biologist or a financial analyst.” It is hard to imagine a little kid wanting to be a financial analyst, but Mr. Liu was that kid! He also remarks that he loves the ocean and marine animals.

Addison Saji

Mr. Diunte: “A baseball player for the New York Mets.” Looking up from his cup of tea, Mr. Diunte tells me that he has always adored baseball. He grew up near Shea Stadium, hence his loyalty to the Mets over the Yankees.

Mr. Tirado: “This is embarrassing, but I wanted to be a priest.” Growing up religious, Mr. Tirado was an altar boy. “Everybody seemed to like my priest, he was such a gentle soul,” he explains. 

Mr. Swenson: “Not a teacher…I can’t remember… maybe an architect. I liked building things.”

Are you happy as a teacher?

Mr. Bartley: “Although time consuming,” Mr. Bartley remarks that being an assistant principal is rewarding in its own way. His current position also allows him to foster his love of history.

Mr. Hershow: Although the pilot dream didn’t Pan (Am) out, Mr. Hershow is extremely happy as an English teacher. He loves to be around books, and giddily explains that “the job really suits” him.

Ms. Rasuk: Even though her days at an architectural firm are over, she is happy to see students (on most days), and adores teaching them her passion.

Santana: Teaching at a high school isn’t without its tough days, but Santana finds the job meaningful and rewarding.

Mr. Liu: Mr. Liu is thrilled to be teaching math, to the point where “it doesn’t even feel like a job!” This is unsurprising, though; Mr. Liu’s positive energy is unmatched.

Mr. Diunte: “I feel fulfilled as a gym teacher,” Mr. Diunte says. “I like working with kids and I get to share everything I know about fitness.”

Mr. Tirado: Mr. Tirado explains that he has drifted away from his Catholic upbringing, and quite enjoys the sense of community that comes with being an HSMSE teacher.

Mr. Swenson: Here is Mr. Swenson’s take on the correlation between one’s happiness and one’s profession: “If you are unhappy and a teacher, you would still be an unhappy doctor or firefighter. Happiness comes from within no matter what direction you go in. I am happy, so I guess you could say I am a happy teacher.”

Very few of these interviewees suspected they would become a teacher, and yet they all enjoy the job they do. The conceptions that we have of ourselves in the future may not come to fruition, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. You might want to become a priest now but find yourself as a science teacher in a decade. One thing is for certain, though: teachers are humans too!



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