USM teacher in training continues working towards her goal; Love of kids inspires Toss to forge on

As human beings, the love for children can be a driving force but, do we really know how much an impact children have on us? 

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You may be pondering this thought all now but for Liesel Toss, the love for children is the main driving force behind her preparation for a career that helps educate, develop, and nurture children. Toss, who is enrolled in the Teacher Education Program at the University of St. Martin, is one of the 13 graduates who will be receiving their Associate of Arts in General Liberal Arts degree this Saturday, June 12, 2010 at the USM Commencement Ceremony. A total of 32 students are expected to receive degrees at the event which will be held at the Westin Hotel beginning at 7pm.

According to Toss, who has about a year and a half left of studies before she obtains her Bachelor’s degree, her journey so far at USM has been "mentally challenging but very invigorating." She adds that "having to find the motivation to attend classes was not the problem" but the challenges were mainly scheduling and finding the financial means to attend school.

Toss originally planned to study business but after spending a summer in Sweden with her family, she unexpectedly ended up spending more time with her nieces and nephews, who she often baby sat. This is where she said she began pondering whether she would be happy sitting in an office all day or interacting with children in some capacity. When she came back to St. Maarten, she made her choice, enrolling in the Teacher Education Program at USM.

"I love kids. I have not had any regrets," says a smiling Toss, while adding that her USM experience has afforded her the opportunity to stay on the island, close to her family.

Currently, Toss says her philosophy about education in general is in flux since "a good teacher has to be willing to adapt and change as time passes." Her belief in a child centered curriculum is currently a focus. She says that in such a curriculum the teacher is the guide and the aim is to bring out the individuality in every child.

The teacher in training says that she is looking forward to her Student Teaching in Fall 2011. She adds that she is very open minded as to where she will do this training. Although she says that she would prefer Kindergarten to grade three, she is flexible and her focus is primarily on being the best teacher she can be.

Education and studying to be a teacher has impacted Liesel profoundly. She candidly notes that when everything else around her was not going as it should, education was her haven. Despite many people questioning her about the reasons she did not go and study another profession like medicine or a lawyer, Toss admits that she is driven by her intrinsic desire to become a teacher.

"This is my thing, completely, that I have done and doing for myself," she says without any apologies. She adds that her interest in mathematics, child psychology, and counseling might have her seeking to pursue her master degree in one of those areas.

Toss notes that besides teaching regular subjects, teachers have to end up counseling children because some come from broken homes, have problems or even due to the fact that their parents may be young.

"The little window that we (as teachers) get into a child’s mind is not enough to deal with all the challenges the child may be facing," says Toss.

She adds that anyone going into the teaching field needs to put their whole heart into it because in her opinion being a teacher is a calling. "Teachers need to strive to their greatest capability for their students to succeed because if a student fails and you as their teacher did not give it your all, you have not only failed your student but you have failed as a teacher. Being a teacher is a demanding profession but the rewards well outweigh the hardships."

Toss has been a USM Ambassador, representing the institution at various functions, since fall 2007. Currently, she is the incoming president of this organization. She advises anyone who has a dream to strive to fulfill that dream.

"We have been blessed with one life to live and if you are going to follow someone else’s dream, you will never be truly happy," the general liberal arts graduate notes.

USM wishes Liesel Toss much success in all her future endeavors.