What is your name, what role do you play in education, how long have you been in education?
My name is Vanessa Little, and I played quite a few roles in education. I became an educator as a teen, teaching Sunday School. After working in a childcare center, I received my teaching license. I taught elementary education and was also a math coach. I obtained my masters in math then began teaching at the collegiate level. I taught on the east coast at George Mason University before returning to Colorado. Where I have taught at Colorado University and Colorado State University. I have taught piano since I was 19, which led me to start my first education-based business. Presently, I own two businesses, Miss Vanessa’s Piano Studio and Lil’ Miss Story Hour. I teach piano lessons and provide literacy themed entertainment (story times) for children’s birthday parties, play dates, and school assemblies. I am also a substitute teacher for District 11 as well. Formally speaking, I have been an educator for 17 years but informally I have been in the field for 30.
Why do you think education is important?
Education opens doors to so many opportunities. If you are willing to acquire knowledge, you become a more informed person. There is so much to learn. You learn about different cultures as well as yourself. Education is much broader than people realize. A person can choose to educate themselves socially or emotionally. Education can be used to improve humanity when we seek to learn about one another & our stories. Education helps us to evolve. There is more than one way to be educated and everyone will not have the same path which is absolutely okay.
What do you love most about your role in education?
The people that I educate. That is what I definitely love the most. I love seeing joy. I love the light bulb come on when learners “get it”. I consider myself a guide. I am a non-traditionalist who chooses empowerment over rhetoric. My teaching style a holistic kind, which is pretty “out of the box” for a math teacher. I have worked in a spectrum of communities, some affluent and some low-income. After noticing disparities with a curriculum that was not inclusive to children of all backgrounds, I worked towards making a change. I love finding a way to make learning relatable to my students.
What is the best advice you have received about impacting the education sector?
I had an amazing mentor who imparted wisdom to include:
~Education will not always look same for you throughout your journey.
~Be open to the possibilities that teaching will bring. You could be an educator on a such broader scope than you believe; if you are willing to leave your comfort zone.
~Embrace education as a form of motherhood.
~That my role in education would be an evolutionary one and take me down many different paths.
What advice would you give the younger generation about their education?
Always have a back-plan. Realize that your education is going to benefit your future and will help you navigate society. Stay committed. Stay the course even if it does not follow the course of “formal education.” The path you choose is correct if it is genuine to you.