I Am a Teacher

by Christy Bryant Nielsen
(Inspired by my mentor, Janet Sant)

I could have been a dancer
performing on a giant stage.
Moving to the music in my head or the beat of my heart
as it moved me across the empty space.
Gliding, Leaping, Spinning, Bowing
But now I move children towards following their own dreams.

I could have been an actress
in the movies or on the stage
Helping people feel their emotions through tears or laughter;
being known by everyone on the street;
Famous, Beloved, Idolized, Wealthy
But now I listen to children laugh and share their feelings with me.

I could have been an artist
drawing on a canvas
Sketching or painting the things I love
capturing beauty for those around me
Thinking, Observing, Creating, Showing
But now I am surrounded by the beauty of thinkers, observers, and creators in my classroom.

I could have been an author
writing books for children
Pouring my imagination and onto the pages of books;
bringing wonder, delight, to the minds of my readers.
Imagining, Feeling, Trying, Sharing
But now I help children to find their own stories to write and share with their world.

I am a teacher
Not because I couldn’t be anything else.
I could be many things.
I chose to be a Teacher
And because I teach, dancers are moved, actors feel, artists create, and authors share
And the world is a better place.
Thank God I am a Teacher!

On March 29, 2018, Christy Bryant Nielsen shared her thoughts and feelings on Facebook about completing the BYU ARTS Integration Endorsement program. Her words follow:

“When did you begin to tell yourself that you were not a good artist, or that you couldn’t dance? What happened between kindergarten–when everyone was an artist–and now, when you are only good at A FEW things? Last night marked my final class in my journey towards an Arts Endorsement. For the last three years, it has been my privilege to learn and work with true master educators who have re-lit my passion for teaching with the arts. Three years ago I was ready to quit teaching. I was burned out by policies and requirements; the joy I once had for teaching was vanishing. I was just doing my job everyday, struggling to answer why I was in this thankless profession. Then I began attending arts integration classes through the BYU ARTS Partnership program and my passion for teaching was alive again. I rediscovered my own inner artist as well as the understanding that every child (and adult) is an artist. As a teacher, it is my duty and honor to help my students create, think, and learn 21st century skills using the arts that will benefit them long after they leave my classroom. I CHOSE to be a teacher, and I thank God today that I am.

Fast forward three years later,  March 30th, 2021, Christy is again reflecting on her experience graduating from the program as Facebook conveniently reminded her of her thoughts and feelings from 2018. She reshared her post and added the following:

I love this memory that popped up of the joy I felt finishing my arts integration endorsement through the BYU Arts Partnership in 2018. I am still so blessed to work with some of the best this profession has to offer, and feel so lucky to pass on my passion to other teachers in the program!

Because of her involvement in the BYU ARTS Partnership professional development programs, Christy is now working as a facilitator in the BYU Arts Integration Endorsement program. She is continuing to spread the joy of arts integration with teachers and is currently the lead facilitator for kindergarten and first-grade teachers. She has grown as a leader in the arts and we are so grateful to have her on our team. 

Hear more about Christy’s experience with teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic on our podcast “Artful Teaching. Find her episode at advancingartsleadership.com/artfulteaching or on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Amazon Music.

Join us in the comments: what do you love about being a teacher? What motivates and inspires you to keep going?

Heather Francis is the Research and Development Coordinator for the BYU ARTS Partnership. A dance teaching artist and former math educator, Heather serves on the national board for the USA chapter of dance and the Child international (daCi) and is currently earning a master’s degree in Instructional Design and Technology from Brigham Young University.

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