For some, it's true what they say about life happening when we're busy making other plans. Samantha Dimas, who had always dreamed of becoming a teacher, put her plans on hold in 2012 because she had a baby on the way.
Dimas was then working in a completely different field until one afternoon when she was flipping through some old books – out slipped her Oklahoma General Education Test (OGET) scores from nearly 15 years prior.
Fast forward to today.
Dimas, a pre-K teacher's aide for the Robert E. Lee Early Childhood Center in Durant, Oklahoma, is enrolled in the Southeastern Oklahoma State University (SOSU) Master of Education in Curriculum & Instruction – Math online program. Her goal is to teach in the classroom.
She is enjoying her experience as an online student, but it took a few detours before she got there. She worked as a probation officer for the Bryan County Drug Court program after completing a bachelor's degree in 2013 and started her own drug testing company in 2017.
When she was rethinking her career direction one year later, her office neighbor Kathy Robinson, CEO of SchoolWare, Inc. and author of Math Facts Matter, a math fact fluency program, helped rekindle her passion for education.
That mentorship validated insights Dimas had just a few weeks after finding her OGET scores.
"I had a dream about a classroom and a little boy who looked to be about 11," she said. "He had chubby little cheeks. An older teacher was showing me what to do, and the little boy looked at me with these big eyes and said, 'It's really not hard. You'll do great.' It just struck me so deep."
When she woke up the next morning, Dimas knew that she was going to be a teacher.
Nurturing Young Minds
Dimas has always had a knack for connecting with elementary-age students.
"I have taught Sunday school since 2011, and my class is in ages 7 to 11," she said. "There's something about that age group. I'm just drawn to it. They're at an age where they're so eager to learn."
Getting to students at this age is important for Dimas because it can make or break their desire to continue learning as they go further in school and on into adulthood.
"Young learners can be taught how to learn and how to grow in learning. Educators help develop the love for learning.
"I think it might be easy for adults to forget what it feels like to really need someone to take the time to slow down, get down on a young learner's level and help them be the best person and the best learner that they can be."
While Dimas loves her young charges, she is still considering the possibility of one day going back to work with adults from backgrounds of adversity and helping them find a better place in the world.
"Right now, my short-term goal is to be in a classroom, but in the long run, I do want to work with adult learners again," she said. "As a probation officer, I worked directly with individuals who did not have high school diplomas or any kind of secondary education. I definitely do not see myself going back into the probation field, but maybe it's something as simple as tutoring adult learners. Education is the key to the door out of poverty. I am an advocate for education to say the least."
As a working mom, Dimas is enjoying the flexibility of SOSU's online M.Ed. program.
"Each class that I've taken has brought me closer and closer to my dream, even before I remembered what my dream was," she said. "One day I just realized, 'Oh my gosh! I literally can't picture myself doing anything else but teaching.'"
Of the courses she has taken so far, two stand out for being as rewarding as they were challenging.
In EDUC 5103: History and Philosophy of Education, Dimas gained valuable foundational knowledge. EDUC 5203: Introduction to Education Research equipped her with problem-solving tools. While the coursework is preparing her for her future role as a teacher, she is also applying her knowledge in real time in her Sunday School classroom.
"I loved learning about the humble beginnings of teachers in America. Courses that are included in this program are so eye-opening. The instructors are experienced professionals and are completely amazing."
With her husband, Steven, and children, Brett (17), Hailey (14), Noah (13), Elijah (12), Gabriel (6) and Lydia (4), at her side, Dimas is able to focus on the coursework she must complete to reach the finish line.
She urges anyone aspiring to a career in education to stop thinking about it and start making it happen.
"Maybe it's an old dream, maybe it's something you had inside of you a long time ago and maybe you've forgotten it, but it's never too late," she said. "It's never too late to go after that desire if you want to teach or be a part of the education system in some way. Go for it!"Learn more about SOSU's Master of Education in Curriculum & Instruction – Math online program.
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