Dolly Mersinger spent 37 years in the classroom as a fourth grade teacher, and this month at OutGrowth, we have the sincere honor of hearing her reflections on her years of teaching. Take a minute to read our Q+A with Dolly below, and read her latest article in this month's issue of En Root!
This month's theme is all about education. Tell us about how you interpret this theme, and how it has played a role in your personal or professional life.
As I see it "education" in life is as much involuntary as voluntary. Like most people I have purposefully sought out avenues to increase my knowledge and understanding in both my professional and personal life. But I am amazed at how much my mind has been educated in involuntary ways through my life experiences. Reflection on one's own life experiences is perhaps the very best involuntary education a person can get.
At OutGrowth, we believe in designing the space and time to reimagine the path forward. How do you believe education plays a role in growing into our best selves?
It goes without saying that formal education is the groundwork and most significant contributor to both personal and professional growth. After and simultaneous to that I think being open to unexpected opportunities plays a significant role in personal growth.
Tell us about your most significant professional moment since the start of the pandemic.
I retired from classroom teaching in 2016. Shortly after that I was asked to become part of the Home Instruction review team in Carroll County Public Schools. Since then I have been reviewing the school work for students from grade K-12 whose families have chosen to do home schooling. Typically, we review the work of the same families year after year. However, when the pandemic hit there were scores of families who decided for a variety of reasons that they were taking their children out of school to start home schooling at once. They were not previously planning to do this and they were not prepared to do it, but I was stunned and impressed by the dedication, research and hard work that these families demonstrated in putting together outstanding academic programs for their children in short order under these circumstances. It was extraordinary to see what parents were capable of doing in an educational emergency like the pandemic.
How did this experience change the course of your life, your career or your outlook from pre-pandemic times.
Getting a chance to work with and converse with parents who successfully and unexpectedly developed their role as academic teachers for their children was an inspiring experience for me.
What is one competency or skill you hope to develop in 2022?
I hope to keep working on my listening and empathy skills.
What inspires you these days?
At OutGrowth, we believe in preparing the next generation of leaders. What is one resource (book, podcast, article, anything!) you'd recommend to those looking to carve out the time for growth in 2022?
Marva Collins Way by Marva Collins and Civia Tamarkin. If you worry about the state of education, read this book. It's an old book but deeply inspiring.
What's next? What are your next steps toward growth in 2022? In retirement I've enjoy staying fluid and being open to growth opportunities as they present themselves.
Dolly Mersinger is a retired educator who spent 37 years in the classroom, 13 years in Baltimore City and 24 years in Carroll County.