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As teachers, I believe that we have a unique opportunity and responsibility to enhance and shape the minds of learners.

Whether one teaches in an elementary, middle, secondary, or adult learning environment, the responsibilities stay constant. In this goal statement, I will describe my experiences during my short time teaching, my goals in my career as they relate to my prospective graduate program, and my capacity to be successful in an online education environment. In July of 2007 I was hired by the New York State Department of Correctional Services as a teacher. Honestly, it was not the career that I had envisioned myself undertaking. I wanted to be a secondary Social Studies teacher in a high school environment. In the previous year, I had moved to the Washington D.C. area to accept a high school position. When I arrived, eagerly and enthusiastically signing my one-year lease to an apartment just outside the city, my plans were derailed. The teacher who I was scheduled to replace decided at the last minute that they were not ready for retirement. I was dislodged with the promise that if another position opened up, I would receive it. Unfortunately a position did not become available so I spent the year in D.C. working odd jobs and struggling to get by. When I moved home the previous year, I applied for positions all over the state of New York, and the first letter I received was from the Department of Corrections. I went on the interview with a sense of reluctance and caution, typical of those who are unfamiliar with the correctional setting. When I was offered the job, I was conflicted. Do I take this job just because it is a job, or do I wait for an opportunity in a traditional public school setting? Due to financial necessities, I accepted the position with the department. As it would turn out, this was the best decision I have made in my short adulthood. Teaching in corrections is very similar to teaching in the public school setting, the curriculum is the same, and we operate on the exact same yearly schedule. In the department of corrections the student's goal is to be awarded their G.E.D. and be recognized in the facility's graduation ceremony. But most importantly, the academic and emotional needs of the students are exactly the same as high

school students. I instantly found the reward in teaching in corrections during my first classroom experience. The students are, without a doubt, challenging but they were instantly recognizable from my experiences in the public school setting as both a former student and student teacher. Many of the students are struggling learners attempting to overcome obstacles that, without proper guidance and instruction, would be overwhelming. These are men that, for whatever reason, did not succeed in the public arena. These are the students who were expelled, arrested, and suspended. Many of these men did not have functional home settings that promoted a focus on academia. Almost all of them were victimized by the constraints of peer pressure and the constant allure of drugs and alcohol that seems to be a magnet for the frustrated youth of America. Being a part of these men's achievements throughout the last four years has been the most fulfilling experience of my life and, with the opportunity, I look forward to using the education that I would receive from the Master of Science in Education Degree with the Curriculum & Instructional Strategies concentration to better serve the needs of my students.