My Turn: Simona Holland – Maryland State Educational Association

My passion for teaching started when I was a young girl growing up in Romania. I was inspired by my basketball coach; he was an outstanding coach and a better human being. It was his love and passion for coaching that lit a fire in me to become a teacher and coach. After graduating from university in physical education, I started my journey as a teacher and coach.

Since arriving in the United States, I have had several opportunities to work with children teaching and coaching various youth sports. I worked with students from two different countries and two different school systems.

It was five years ago when my sister-in-law invited me to spend a day in her class. I remembered why I wanted to become a teacher: I wanted to help children achieve their goals and help them decide who and what they wanted to be. I am grateful to my sister-in-law and our principal and vice principal for having the opportunity to work at such an amazing school. We are a small school with incredible students who have incredible abilities and talent. My school is my extended family, and I am so grateful to them!

I recently got involved with our local union, the Worcester County Educational Support Staff Association (WCESPA), and am now one of two representatives at our school. Our union is important to me because we are a united group of people working together for change. Our local and state government leaders need to understand the value of support staff and change the way we are viewed.

It’s hard to imagine such rewarding yet undervalued work. It is extremely difficult to give so much of yourself to your students and colleagues, only to be looked down upon at the end of a pay period! Although support staff are not always recognized for our roles, I believe it would be impossible for any school system to function properly without our hard work and dedication.

I am blessed to have such an amazing family and an extended school family. I try to teach my children that being “great” is a choice that requires sacrifice and hard work. Often we believe that we are the cause of change in the lives of our students, but we often realize that it is our students who change our lives and make us better individuals.

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Helen D. Jessen