How I Became a Teacher. A Webcomic.

Amethyst Hinton Sainz Life in the Classroom, Literacy, Web/Tech

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I like fairy tales. I do. Fantastical tales of all types, both hopeful and horrifying. And so it embarrasses me that there is not a lot of romance or poetry in my story of becoming a teacher. However, I do think my story provides a pragmatic counter-narrative to the inspiring stories of all of these people I seem to be surrounded to with whose dream was to teach, who were born for it.

My dream was not to teach.  Actually, I have always had a bit of a difficult time formulating a dream I could stand behind for any length of time. Despite my tendency at a younger age toward irrational fears, anxieties and self-doubt, I liked to explore. Some of my earliest memories were digging quietly in the mud or sand for as long as I could get away with it, chewing on flower stems in the yard, digging through my mother’s jewelry box, examining the human anatomy coloring book at length.  When older, my friends and I would ride bikes and get ourselves lost on purpose, build forts. I always had a book I was reading, and I escaped into them often, since as I got older, life at home became more painful and complicated.

Anyway, when I went off to college at the University of Arizona, I didn’t know what I wanted.  I wanted to be out of the mountains, away from my old identity and difficult home life; I joined the Pride of Arizona marching band and played tuba even though I had only played concert tuba for two years and had never marched it.  What was I thinking?  But putting myself into these new worlds stimulated me and challenged me.  And I loved it.

My mother and others said I should be a scientist, but I wasn’t particularly well-prepared for lab sciences out of high school (sorry, Mr. Kelly, but we still love you.) I was still pretty good at science, and interested in the bigger ideas, but I didn’t enjoy spending a lot of time doing science.

I’ve already written about why I keep teaching.  But here’s a snapshot of why I became a teacher.  It’s not romantic.  It may not be inspiring.  But it is true. (You may need to click on the image to read the comic. Much obliged, thanks!)

How I Became a Teacher, by Ms. Hinton Sainz


I published this comic at  Learning neat stuff on the internet is just one of the many things I enjoy about my profession.  Teaching is stimulating, challenging and exploratory.  And I share this profession with people who inspire me and make me want to be a better person each and every day.  My students require me to be better. The longer I teach, the more I appreciate the opportunity I have to work with amazing students and teachers, and the more love I have for it, and for them. What could be better?


Amethyst Hinton Sainz is National Board Certified Teacher in Adolescent and Young Adult English Language Arts, and is constantly trying to live up to that standard! This year she will begin teaching at Westwood High School in Mesa, Arizona as an interventionist. She has taught junior high ELD and high school English in Arizona for 25 years. She has been a Stories from School blogger since 2012. Amethyst’s alma maters are Blue Ridge High School, the University of Arizona and the Bread Loaf School of English at Middlebury College. Her bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing and Philosophy led her toward the College of Education, and she soon realized that the creative challenges of teaching would fuel her throughout her career. Her love of language, literature, and culture led her to Bread Loaf for her master's in English Literature. She is a fellow with the Southern Arizona Writing Project, and that professional development along with, later, the National Board process, has been the most influential and transformative learning for her. As a board member of the Mesa NBCT Network, she works with other NBCT’s to promote this powerful process throughout the district. She supports candidates for National Board Certification, and loves seeing teachers realize and articulate their teaching and leadership power! She enjoys teaching students across the spectrum of academic abilities, and keeping up with new possibilities for technology in education. Last year she had the privilege of running our school garden, and will really miss that this year. She is currently learning more about social and racial justice and is striving to be an antiracist educator. She lives in Mesa, Arizona with her family. She enjoys time with them, as well as with her vegetable garden, backyard chickens, and the two dogs. She also enjoys reading, writing, cooking (but not doing dishes), kayaking, camping, and travel, among other things.

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