SOUTH PORTLAND — Sydney Beecher said standing out in a crowd has never been her strong suit, but a future career in elementary education would give her the space she needs to shine her brightest.

“I’m trying to find my place and stand out from others, and a career as a fourth-grade teacher would give me that opportunity,” the South Portland High School senior said. “There are a few others in my class that want to be teachers, but I want to be the one that makes the greatest impact.”

Beecher, who will join her peers at graduation Sunday, June 9, at 2 p.m. at SPHS, said her journey of self-discovery in school has led her to the University of Maine Farmington, where will study education.

“When I was a kid, I had an old school desk and would set up my stuffed animals and teach them. It was my earliest memory of wanting to be a teacher,” Beecher said. “When began working with kids, it helped me realize I could make a difference by teaching other children and helping them grow.”

Beecher volunteers at Dyer Elementary School teaching math to fourth graders and spent her summers throughout high school working at the Rec Camp Big Riots, a program for third and fourth graders. It’s these experiences that taught Beecher the importance of leaving a positive impact on youth.

“I love working with kids, and my volunteering to teach math is fun because I can help them in a hands-on way,” she said. “Every year of school is important, and my goal is to help students realize their potential and teach them something they may not have known before.”

When she wasn’t working closely with students, Beecher spent her time playing Ultimate Frisbee, which ended last week. She said it helped her feel healthier and made her a better person, which gave her a good attitude when working with students.

She also learned American Sign Language during her time in high school, which gave her an opportunity to learn about deaf culture and has provided an extra set of skills she can use in her chosen field of education.

She said her teachers, Val Sears and James Flaherty, played an important role in her decision to become a teacher. Sears, who teaches ASL, has been a good role model for what it means to be a teacher because she is patient and understanding with her students. Flaherty, she said, applies a hands-on teaching method that makes learning fun.

As she prepares to leave for college, Beecher said she is both excited and nervous for what lies ahead. She hopes to join another Ultimate Frisbee team – and that all her succulents will fit in her dorm room — but more than anything, she hopes she can come back and teach in South Portland after she reaches her goal of becoming an educator.

“South Portland has provided me so many opportunities and experiences. I know so much of the community,” she said. “It feels like home and it always will be, I want to give back to the people who gave to me.”

Her advice to future students?

“Never stop trying, and never give up,” she said. “It never hurts to ask for help or to continue pursuing something, even if you’re worried it’s dumb to others. Anything is achievable as long as you keep going.”

Krysteana Scribner can be reached at [email protected] or 780-9094. Follow her on Twitter: @krysteana2016.

Sydney Beecher is set to graduate from South Portland High School on June 9, and will be attending the University of Maine Farmington for a future career in education.

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