Dreams Realized

Story by: Abraham Proctor and Christina Holmes

Tracey Briggs working with a student

Tracey Briggs is teaching summer school at Boise-Eliot in Portland, the same school she attended and the place her two daughters now go. Although she long dreamed of teaching, Briggs, 31, dabbled in a handful of other jobs (sales associate to bank teller), before making the switch to education. The single mother of three children between the ages of 10 and 5 hopes she’s an inspiration to those around her, proving that it’s never too late to act upon your dreams.

When did you discover that you wanted to teach?
I’ve known since I was a little girl. When I had my first baby-sitting job for the summer I created an entire school environment on the first level of our home. I had a reading corner, math games and activities, a Spanish center and even my very own cafeteria. My 3-year-old student had a very productive summer and her parents were impressed by the amount of information she learned.
Why did you choose the Portland Teachers Program?
I heard from several different people that it was the best teaching program around and that it prepares you to be successful in your classroom. I joined PTP in 2002 and graduated with a master’s degree in education from Portland State University in 2006.
Do any PCC faculty members stand out in your mind?
Dr. James Harrison was the best teacher I had because he set high expectations for his students. Susan Wilson was my academic adviser and she always steered me in the right direction. She was very supportive.
What did you learn in the PTP at the Cascade Campus that has helped you the most on the job?
I learned that you must find something in each child to help them be the best they can be. Some students don’t think they are special or have any special skills or gifts, and as a teacher/leader, I learned that I must find this gift and bring it to the child’s recognition.
What is your best memory of PCC?
Working in the PTP office. I learned a lot about myself, others, PTP and life. Those were some of the most important and memorable years of my life.
Describe your school, your classroom and your students.
I’m a fifth-grade teacher at Woodlawn Elementary School in Portland. I just completed my first year of teaching and I had the best students in the world. My classroom was a community that you could feel as you walked into the room. You could find so much talent in each of my 23 students. By the end of the year, my students knew they were special and that they had something to add to, not only the classroom but to the world. I’m confident that each of those students will be very successful in the future.
What’s the best part of your job?
Being around students that I learn from daily. Not one day went by that I did not learn something new from the students. I was blessed to have such a wonderful group for my first year and I know that as the years go by I will never forget them.
Any advice for young college students now at PCC?
Always do your personal best. You never know who is watching or where your life road will take you, so you must be prepared for any and everything.