Many educators say their calling to teach came early, sometimes as kids.
For Michael Siegner, a second grade teacher at Horizon Elementary in Johnston, the epiphany came later in life.
“I actually had no intentions of being a teacher, whatsoever,” says Siegner, who initially planned to be an electrician.
But it’s clear he made the right choice when you hear his enthusiasm for his job.
“I just love it. I love every minute of it,” says Siegner, who enjoys the element of surprise that accompanies each day. “I just love this age. Every day is different.”
While teaching appears to be second nature for Siegner today, it took him some time to realize it was the right career for him. While attending Des Moines Area Community College, he quickly learned that being an electrician wasn’t for him.
As he pondered his job prospects, his girlfriend (now wife), Jenae, reminded him of how much he liked working with kids and possibly making that a career. It hadn’t occurred to him until then, but it made sense, says Siegner, who helped raise his four younger sisters.
He visited with his Grandma Siegner, a former teacher. She shared her experiences and told him teaching was a good fit for him. He also recalled the great teachers in his life and all they did for him. The defining moment came working with students at an underprivileged school.
“I just loved working with them, and I just enjoyed those kids,” he says. “That day really sold it for me.”
The joy he gleans from working with students remains strong today — whether it’s seeing them gain their independence and helping them grow or being witness to a child’s “a-ha!” moment.
The toughest part of his job is being unable to fully help kids who have hard family lives or who don’t have the basic necessities, he says. “You do as much as you can.”
One unexpected thing he’s learned is just how many roles teachers play.
“I didn’t realize how much teachers do in a day,” Siegner says. “You put on different hats, and you do so many different things other than teaching, which is another reason I love this job.”