Teaching is a calling
by Vicky Kaniaru
CLEVELAND, Ga. (TMCNews) — Marking 30 years in education this year, Associate Professor of Education Tammy Mize said she has never regretted her decision to be a teacher.
With a career that has spanned teaching, coaching, and administration, Mize has discovered that her sole passion is teaching in the classroom. "God called me into the profession, and I just knew it was the right thing to do," said Mize, a Truett-McConnell College alumna.
Mize said those who enter the teaching profession should be sure of God's career calling. "When you're teaching, you really do live in a glass house; and sometimes, whether you like it or not, when you stumble, it just seems to be magnified."
The flip side of that for Mize is that the ability to intersect spirituality and pedagogy at Truett-McConnell is "refreshing," she said.
Sharing her faith in the classroom is an integral part of every day, said Mize, who noted that the Book of James warns believers to not take the responsibility of teaching lightly.
"No gift should be received with greater sobriety than influence," said Mize, who shares Scripture, inspirational quotes, and personal stories in the classroom.
"I've had periods of my career where I honestly felt like I did not have two feet on the ground," Mize said. "When I have been in those situations, I've been too busy to really do the things that I needed to do spiritually." But Mize now strives to make her spirituality a priority, especially in the classroom.
"I hope my students realize, through my actions and my words, that I care about them as a whole human being, not just whether [they have] accomplished the competencies for successful teaching, but their physical, social, emotional, and spiritual well-being," Mize said.
Mize encourages her students who seek a secular teaching career to emulate her example and, in the public arena, to lead by Christian example without overstepping the boundaries of the separation of church and state.
"God would not be disappointed with any teacher who would try to train a child to grow up to be an honest [and] hardworking individual who knows right from wrong," she said, noting that, Christians teaching in public schools can't be as open about their faith as they might want, but they can lead by example.
Effective teaching is not based solely on mastering content, added Mize, who said that "your emotion quotient is the key to your success in your profession as well as in life."
"In other words, do you have a Christ-like attitude, and are you an example of that?" Mize said. "If you want to be successful in life, then you must be aware of your emotional quotient. If you have a low emotional quotient, it won't matter what your intelligence quotient is."
Students will not be perfect, but they must strive for excellence because "no one wants to be a part of anything [wherein] the goal is to be mediocre," Mize added.
Her parents, who taught her to attend church, work hard, and respect others, fostered the professor's drive for excellence. And her relationship with the Lord grew from "just being exposed to the Word," she said.
"I was saved at age 16," said Mize, who added that she began to see life differently after committing her life to Christ.
As a self-confessed introvert, she "wasn't likely to take a bold step without really thinking through it. ... The pounding in my chest got old, and I thought it may be now or never." Mize adds that the older she gets, the more spiritually mature she becomes.
"There is really something to be said for older and wiser. I guess I'm at that point in my life where things are finally coming together, and they are finally clicking," said Mize, who previously struggled to balance her personal life, her career, and her spirituality.
"I have been blessed with many wonderful experiences and opportunities throughout my career," she said. "I feel like I have come full circle as a professional. I've always wanted to end my career as an educator at an institution of higher learning."
"I appreciate the administration here at Truett-McConnell College for giving me this opportunity," she said. "It has been nothing but a blessing. I am where I need to be and I believe I'm making a difference."
Vicky Kaniaru is senior staff writer at Truett-McConnell College.