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Carrie Sumney

Carie Sumney

Center Grove Middle School Central 
24 Years of Teaching; 24 Years at Center Grove 

To me, teaching is important because...

Teaching is who I am, but, to be honest, I never wanted to become a teacher.  I never considered teaching until the end of high school when a coach suggested that career path.  In retrospect, I realize that I have been on that path from early in my journey.  Even during elementary school I had neighborhood friends in my garage and would be passing out “curriculum” I put together.  Those memories make me giggle as I now understand that even as a kid, I was putting together lessons that had self-analysis, reflection, step-by-step content, and real-life application. I can see now that I had a gift for teaching and didn’t even know it.  I think I had wonderful Sunday School teachers, camp counselors, teachers, and parents that were able to break down skills and model this for me.  And the feeling that I got when the light bulb clicked was like walking through Narnia that held surprises and journeys of discovery.  I loved having that shared experience with my teachers and an unexplainable energy that washed over me.  I would beg (or bribe) my twin sister to come outside so I could teach her how to shoot a basket, throw a ball, or talk her up until she had the courage and confidence to ride her bike down Arlington Hill.  Seeing the joy on her face and knowing I had something to do with her feeling good about herself gave me a sense of joy deep down in my soul.  The fact that I get to create these same experiences every day and get paid?  Well, I don’t know what could be more satisfying or important.  

Recently, I was helping a student read an article about a slave who had been taught to read, but later his masters forbade him for fear that education and slavery were incompatible.  In a loose quote, Fredrick Douglass responds to this restriction saying, “All of this is too late.  By teaching me, she has given me an inch and I will take a yard.”  This quote summarizes why teaching is important to me.  It provides freedom, but this comes not purely from content.  If so, anyone could be in the “profession of teaching.”  To be a teacher, however, is to build the capacity of believing in oneself,  a sense of feeling connected, and the magic of curiosity.  I am blessed to be the deliverer of content, but really, I get to be a nurturer of young people.  And they are worthy treasures to me.  Teaching is who I am, but why is teaching important?  It is because my students are also teachers.  It is my students who make me better for knowing them.  It is becoming a better human because of the lessons they teach me.  Lessons of  gentleness, compassion, resilience, as well as those of pursuing joy, accepting mistakes, and seeking to be heard, acknowledged, and understood.  I am learning right along with them.  And that’s important to me.