“Hello, my name is Ina Zaimi, a first year student with the intention of majoring in English.” I usually say this line with a slight smile to strangers that I might or might not meet again. And I am sure that you, too, have a very similar introduction to share. Perfected to the point of rehearsed, our names become almost synonymous with our majors when we introduce ourselves as students. These self-imposed epithets provide security, some sense of identity, and perhaps an attractive sound-bite during the numerous meet and greets that accompany freshman year. But, “[w]hat’s in a name?” Only when strangers stay long enough to listen (or read) do our names multiply in meaning.
The back-to-school season in the state of Michigan is simply beautiful. The leaves, baked under a heavy and hot sun for three months, slowly and finally lose their greenness, and they leave their branches to litter the sidewalks of bus stops. The loss, though, is balanced with the start of a new school year. This yearly transition is how I remember the Septembers of my primary and secondary school years. I should have included “eager student” along with “Ina Zaimi”, in those days. It was this eagerness for fall, for school that still shades my memories and colors my expectations rose for the back to school season. My love of learning not only made me excited to go back to school, but it motivated me to help other students become equally as excited. To fulfill this, I tutored through Mu Alpha Theta and National Honors Society. I started a tutoring program for the Spanish Club, and I tutored through that, also. I even hosted study groups and one-on-one tutoring to help anyone who asked. My love of learning naturally lead to my love teaching in this way.
When the back to school season brought me to the University of Michigan last year, I did not have plans on becoming a teacher. The “eager student”, however, could not rest with merely an “English major”. On a whim, I enrolled in an introductory education class, trying to rationalize that the credit would count for something or another. And as fate would have it, Education 118 is where I learned about The Graide Network. Grading students’ work was a different approach than my previous attempts to help students learn. At times, evaluating work was difficult. I did not want to be the one to mark an answer wrong! The awesome Graide Network Team, though, was always there to lend a helping hand, and the teachers’ comments revealed how much the students valued a Graider’s comments. Even for the questions marked wrong! This real and concrete impact made me add “future teacher” to my name.
Now that my name cannot be called “by any other name”, I would do well in giving a better introduction of myself… “Hello, my name is Ina Zaimi. I am double-majoring in English and biochemistry in order to gain my teaching certificate in secondary education”. In high school, I loved to learn, and I want to return to the classroom to spread this love of learning with future generations. Until that day, I am a Graider, helping and supporting the teachers who currently instill the value of education in their students. And I am also on the Graider Advisory Board to ensure that other Graiders have the same life-changing impact which I have had.
To new Graiders, have fun grading students’ essays and be proud that you are serving a nation-wide community. You might just learn something about yourself, like I did. To returning Graiders, join in me in practicing our future profession. Let’s make this back-to-school season the best one yet!
Ina Zaimi is a sophomore at the University of Michigan where she is double-majoring in English and Biochemistry in order to gain her teaching certificate in secondary education. She is also a member of the Graider Advisory Board.