Friends and Family February 15, 2019

Following in my Mother’s Footsteps

Jeevana Varakala

Jeevana Varakala started teaching grade 5 in Deer Lake First Nation in September 2018. Jeevana has a Bachelor of Engineering at Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University, India and a Bachelor of Education at Niagara University. She is originally from India.

 

Teach For Canada's Jeevana Varakala

Jeevana Varakala is a Teach For Canada teacher in Deer Lake First Nation

 

As an engineering graduate, I was sure I would one day work for a corporation of sorts when my family moved to Canada. However, moving to an unknown land gave me the chance to rethink my options and reflect on what kind of profession I would love.

 

Jeevana's students work with math manipulatives

Jeevana’s students work with math manipulatives

 

Turning to my Parents for Inspiration

 

My answer came from my parents. I watched both of their careers growing up, and I decided I wanted to follow in my mother’s footsteps.

My mother is a teacher.

Her calmness, the way she organizes every detail, and her ability to balance her personal and professional life inspired me.

I knew it was going to be a big leap for me to go from a technical profession to teaching. But my mother reassured me with her insight into her experience as a teacher, including some of the challenges, so that I had an idea of what to expect. I undertook this journey with open eyes, knowing the challenges that lay ahead of me.

 

2018 Deer Lake Teachers

2018 Teach For Canada teachers going to Deer Lake with community members at the Summer Enrichment Program

 

Going North with Preparation and Support

 

My mother also teaches in the North, in Keewaywin First Nation. With her guidance, I ended up also applying to teach in the the North through Teach For Canada. I was selected and then offered a position by Deer Lake First Nation. Then I headed to Thunder Bay to receive preparation with the rest of my cohort. The Teach For Canada teachers were from many different backgrounds.

 

Jeevana and other Teach For Canada teachers at the Summer Enrichment Program

Jeevana and other Teach For Canada teachers at the Summer Enrichment Program

 

During the Summer Enrichment Program, I began to feel relief, even confident, about my decision to teach in the North. This was going to be my first time away from home. But I had made many good friendships with my fellow teachers. I was also taking with me rich memories from the time we spent together.

 

Jeevana teaching her grade 5 students

Jeevana teaching her grade 5 students

 

Adjusting to a New Life

 

I have had my share of struggles adjusting to the weather and the loneliness that comes with being away from home. But it did not take much time for me to get used to my new life. My new neighbours quickly became my extended family. More importantly, I realized how much I enjoyed being a teacher as I felt so at ease with my students.

 

Sunset in Deer Lake First Nation

Sunset in Deer Lake First Nation

 

In fact, I have come to love my students dearly. They show affection by writing small notes and making Valentine’s cards for me, which melt my heart.  What more can you ask for than to earn the respect and love of the children you teach?

 

Valentine's and notes from students

Jeevana receives notes and Valentine’s from her students

 

My students love math so much that sometimes at recess they choose to stay inside to challenge themselves with math problems. Their hard work and determination give me energy and motivation to work for them. Certainly I am often exhausted by the end of the day but spending time with my students is incredibly rewarding.

 

Jeevana works on a math problem with her students

Jeevana works on a math problem with her students

 

My mother is also a source of strength and one of my greatest teachers. Working in the same profession as her is more than a dream come true for me. She always says that a good teacher should still be a good learner.

I hope I will learn to be half as good a teacher as my mother is so that I can impact my students and contribute to their future.