Sometimes in life, we may find ourselves separated from our childhood dreams. Financial struggles, conflicts in relationships, or taking care of family members can make a significant claim on our ability to become who we’ve always wanted to be. Finding the balance between those factors is no easy task—but the reward is immeasurable, as Washington County Community College alumna Jane Andrews exemplifies.
Over two decades ago, Andrews found herself in a difficult situation. As a recently-divorced single mother of two boys, she had no choice but to work multiple jobs to attempt to make enough money to support her family. “When you’re a single parent, you’ve got to be able to take care of your kids. I worked as an Ed Tech as well as two extra jobs to keep going,” she recalled.
Finally, it got to a point where Andrews recognized she had to make a change. Working as an Ed Tech and being a mother kept her in tune with her longtime desire: “I always wanted to be a teacher—right from the time I was little.”
Andrews made the decision to pursue her teaching degree. While going away to a college or attending full-time were not options for Andrews, she knew she could work toward her degree part-time at WCCC. The small size of the school and its affordable classes made it especially appealing.
As a non-traditional student, returning to school was not an immediately easy transition. “I was petrified,” she laughed, remembering her first few classes. However, she soon gained confidence. “It was wonderful. There were always people to help.” Andrews still remembers one math teacher that was particularly supportive. “Bert Ward was there to help me through it.”
After completing her two-year degree at WCCC, Andrews transferred her credits to the University of Maine. She recalls having no problems transferring the credits. “I never felt like I wasn’t prepared to continue on,” she added. “I love [WCCC]; it’s such a great school,” Andrews said. “I’ve done everything to encourage students to take that option… Everything is an advantage at a small school.”
When it came time for Andrews to do her student teaching, she did so at Princeton. “I slid right into the fourth grade, and I’ve been there ever since,” she said. “I was hired immediately. It was a smooth transition for me.”
Andrews’ affinity for teaching goes well beyond looking at it as a job. “Teaching is rewarding,” she said. “I love my students and their families. There are good days and bad days, but more good than bad.” Her commitment to teaching is evidenced by the weekly art classes that she holds for students on a volunteer basis. “If you want to see a room in chaos, come to my room. I have art projects in every corner.”
Earlier this year, Andrews’ passion and ability was formally recognized when she was named Washington County Teacher of the Year. To those considering becoming a teacher themselves, she had these words to share: “If you are thinking of a career in teaching, it’s worth it completely. Don’t compare the pay to other jobs, and don’t compare the glamour of other jobs to your’s—because, most of the time, it isn’t there. Instead, think of every child you can make a difference in by encouraging them to strive and to become their very best!”