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Member & Activist Spotlight

Shereena Dyer: A Better Future for Them.

Shereena Dyer is a science teacher from Spanaway, Washington
Shereena Dyer
Published: February 14, 2022

"If you went back in time to find me as a 16-year-old and told me I would become a science teacher, I probably would have laughed. I can remember as a student thinking: Math is too hard. Science is too hard. I can’t do it. I’m not smart enough. I didn’t have a lot of confidence in those subjects until college. I took a chance on myself and proved I was able to succeed. But at the time, teaching still wasn’t something I had set out to do. 
My background is in geology. I initially set out to become a university professor or research scientist, but life throws you quite a few curveballs. In every stage of my life though, teaching kept popping up. In high school, college, grad school; and then it dawned on me: I enjoy watching people learn and grow.  
My interests started to change after my father passed away in 2011. A few years after his death, I ended up taking a job as a mudlogger in New Mexico. On a long-term basis, it wasn’t what I wanted, and I felt this urge to go back to school and do something else. Everyone was telling me I needed to be a teacher, since I talked about how much I loved to learn and loved knowledge. 
And so, I applied to a graduate program at Southern Oregon University and was accepted. I completed two years there, student taught, became licensed in 2018, and took a position in Washington. 
As a teacher, I’ve taught a variety of subjects: Biology, Earth Science, Environmental Science, Chemistry, Physics, and Physical Science. I place a strong emphasis on teaching students how to direct their own learning, navigate challenging curriculum, reflect on how they’re doing, determine how to improve their work, overcome challenges, manage their time, and stay organized.  
But what keeps me going every single day is connecting with kids, saying ‘Hi. How are you? How was your weekend? Tell me about your dog.’ I tell students they’re here to learn from me, but I learn from them by seeing the world through their eyes.  
I do have an interest in social and racial justice and have been part of my school and district equity teams. I’ve also joined the Washington Education Association’s Educators of Color group and have attended webinars to find community, as well as learn from other educators of color regarding their experiences in life and profession.  
This work is important to me. As I think about my role as a teacher, I think about my students of color, students who have disabilities, different sexual orientations, or who are transgender. I think of my female students, many who, like myself at their age, don’t think they can be successful at science or math. I think about a lot of the systemic barriers that they’re up against when they graduate high school. I want to build a better future for them. 
I joined the union for its support, not just in navigating the terms or the technicalities of the profession, but for support within the work we do every day. This is the first position I've held where I've had the opportunity to be part of the union. I feel more supported as a teacher in this profession than in any other position I’ve held."

National Education Association

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The National Education Association (NEA), the nation's largest professional employee organization, is committed to advancing the cause of public education. NEA's 3 million members work at every level of education—from pre-school to university graduate programs. NEA has affiliate organizations in every state and in more than 14,000 communities across the United States.