I get up every morning thinking about them - these kids make me want to teach. They are my paycheck, my way to help make a better world.
Aaron Connor, '12 BSED
5th grade teacher, Westside Elementary School in Daytona Beach
"I’ve had a lot of great people in my life; their example made a difference," says Aaron Connor, 40, who became a teacher at 39. "In my 30s, it became clear to me that I wanted to find a way to give back, to make a better world through my work."
With a dozen years working in the restaurant field, Aaron began sorting through other career options, first choosing engineering studies at Bethune-Cookman University. "That was an interesting start in my higher education, but when I decided to go out in the community and tutor kids, I realized what I really wanted to do."
Aaron became a role model for his four children as he pursued education studies at Daytona State. "Now they’ve seen through me that you can always find the right path, and go to school to make it happen."
"It might sound corny, but I tell you, the kids are my inspiration - they get me up in the morning," explains Aaron. "I look forward to being there for them every day, to help in class and talk about other problems they’re having.
"It’s hard work, but man, I don’t know anything else more rewarding and worthwhile that I can do in this world. Teaching is my passion; those kids are my paycheck."
Aaron extends his payback to offering advice and help with education students in Daytona State’s program, stopping in whenever he can. "We need all the best teachers we can get," he says. "Students on their way to teaching need to know how important they will be to many many kids over time.
"Even if we don’t reach them all, the ones we do will make a difference in the world. And that’s our reward, knowing our work is for a better future for all of us."