BY MSTA PRESIDENT NICOLAS VASQUEZ

At the start of each year I am reminded that one of the best things about teaching is that each year is an opportunity for a fresh start.

Throughout my first year of teaching, I knew there were things that needed to be changed, and I did my best to implement changes. I quickly realized that changing mid-year was nearly impossible. My students had slowly gained control of my classroom and removing that power felt like a never-ending uphill battle. I remember taking time during the summer following my first year of teaching to reflect and regroup. At the start of my second year of teaching, I made the decision to begin with the end in mind and that meant taking all that I had learned and molding those experiences into positive, meaningful change. In the words of Stephen Covey, “Your most important work is always ahead of you, never behind you.” To finish the story, my second year of teaching wasn’t perfect, but the confidence and joy I felt that year have continued to inspire me today.

In that vein, I want to offer you a few words of genuine encouragement. First, simply said, what we are doing DOES matter. Next, in our fast-paced world, I encourage you to take a moment to remember that growth takes time. The seeds you are planting, watering, and cultivating in the young hearts and minds of your students will grow and come to fruition. Finally, there are students in your class who will look back on this year and be thankful for your influence. There are students who care. Who are grateful. Who are learning. Who are growing. Even if they never tell you.

During the opening ceremonies of our school year, I had the opportunity to hear Mitch Holthus, voice of the Kansas City Chiefs, address our staff. The emphasis of his message posed the following question – “Do you live your life as a free agent or look for opportunities to leave a footprint?” From an educational perspective, he was challenging us to reflect on our “Why?” and go beyond putting it into words so that each of us can leave a legacy of lasting value.

As the curtain falls on my year as state president I am reminded of how effectively our association seeks opportunities to leave a legacy. Throughout the legislative session, I was fortunate to join members at the Capitol and see firsthand their passion to ensure our collective voice is continually heard from state legislators. Just as that season was coming to an end, I was honored to attend several spring celebrations that were focused on recognizing members for their service to public education, award scholarships, and provide grants. The New Professionals Training Camp continues to grow, giving an early start to solidify our profession and plant the seeds of future leadership. As in previous years, the Leadership Conference was another successful event of motivation, inspiration and friendship – providing our teacher-leaders an environment where they are given the tools and information needed to strengthen the work with their local CTAs. Lastly, I would be remiss if I did not mention the incredible staff that work diligently to meet the needs of our members to carry out the vision of our association. As you can see, time after time, MSTA exceeds the expectations of leaving a legacy of lasting value in supporting public education in the state of Missouri.

It’s been said that life is a journey not a destination. As I look back on the journey that placed me in this position I am reminded of so many family and friends who have supported and encouraged me along the way. Indeed, it has been both humbling and gratifying to serve as the president of this steadfast association. Although my term will end in November, MSTA will forever be a part of my life.

To God be the glory, great things he has done.

Peace. Love. Happiness.