Alysha Akbar, 6th Grade Teacher
What Do You Want to Be When You Grow Up?
Whenever someone asked Alysha Akbar what she wanted to be when she grew up, she would always answer “A teacher.” But not just any teacher, she wanted to be just like Ms. Jane Conner, her fifth grade teacher at Forestville Elementary School.
“It seemed like so much fun, it didn’t seem like work,” Akbar remembers. “When I had Ms. Conner, it pretty much reaffirmed that this was what I wanted to do. You are in a positive happy profession, you get to inspire kids. My idea of what I wanted to be never changed. Ms. Conner made everything fun and energetic and exciting and I wanted to do the same thing.”
But in college, a friend convinced her that business was a better major than education. “After graduation, I worked in corporate recruiting for about 10 years,” Akbar says. “After a while, I had one of those moments where I said, ‘Is this what I want to be doing for the rest of my life?’ I took a good, hard look and thought, you know what, I am going to go back to what my passion was.”
Akbar enrolled in the master’s program at George Mason University in Curriculum and Development. She worked two jobs and went to school at night. It was hard, but she never questioned that she was making the right choice. After student teaching in Loudoun County, she ended up teaching fourth grade in Loudoun County Public Schools.
Akbar was happy, but always had in the back of her mind that she would return to Forestville Elementary to teach where she fell in love with learning. Fate intervened as Akbar was shopping one day and ran into an old roommate who worked at Forestville. It turns out there was an opening for a fourth grade teacher. The timing didn’t work out but Akbar kept in touch with the principal of Forestville. The following spring, he reached out and asked Akbar to come in for an interview.
While Akbar was waiting for her interview, she noticed some pictures on the wall and saw a familiar face. “I thought, oh my gosh! Is that Ms. Conner? I am so excited that I might get to work with someone I consider a mentor.”
Today, Akbar and Jane Conner work side by side on the 6th grade team. “When I don’t understand something or if I need a little more explanation, I don’t call her Jane. I call her Ms. Conner, because I feel like I will always be her student and she will always be my teacher.”
Sixth Grade Reading