Taylor Latourette, West Belmar (Wall school district) 5th Grade Special Ed
I grew up going to Catholic School. I always had liked religion, and at the school I went to the nuns and priests were really good role models for me. So I went to Seton hall to pursue becoming a priest. But after I got there, I knew immediately it wasn’t for me. The lifestyle wasn’t what I thought it would be. I still to this day think about ministry, but I just know being a priest was not the right fit for me. I wouldn’t be able to get married, and I saw how much having to walk away from my family to pursue the priesthood would affect me, as I was facing that choice in seminary. I am still very active in the church, and I joke with people that I feel like I have duel-citizenship.
My first job out of college was special education, and I have stayed with it ever since. The kids and I have such a great time. It’s all about rapport with them. With my students, it is about entering into their world, on every level. And slowly you build a structure with them.
My favorite quote is from Maria Montessori: you can tell if you are doing a good job as a teacher if the children function as if you are not even there. The idea is if they are independent, then you are successful. I love teaching in a lot of ways, but it is really important to teach them skills that they can use the rest of their lives.
I am not even sure if I can explain how I am able to connect with the kids so well. I think it is a character trait I have. My dad is a school bus driver right now, and he always says he is the biggest kid on the bus, and I feel that way as a teacher often.
My idea of Christianity is that the philosophy of loving others is important, and I think that is what a teacher does. You are with them 8 hours a day, and you have a huge influence on them, and Jesus was a teacher. Without even saying a word, whether you have religion or not, ‘you do unto others as you have them do unto you’ is a great way to live and be a teacher.
Last year I ran for the Board of Ed in Brielle as a write-in candidate. There were 700 write-ins foe me, but I didn’t get elected. I plan on running for office in the near future, with high hopes of bringing positive change to whomever I’m elected to serve.