What you can learn from the 2017 Washington State teacher of the year 

Written by Eric Titner

We all want our lives to be filled with purpose and to have a positive and lasting impact on the world around us. After all, having a life filled with meaning is a key component of a personally satisfying existence. This is not just a “nice to have” or something pleasant to daydream about when you’re going about your daily routine—according to a recent Psychology Today article, “the need for purpose is one the defining characteristics of human beings.

Human beings crave purpose, and suffer serious psychological difficulties when we don’t have it.” The article goes on to declare that “…when we don’t have a sense of purpose in our lives… it makes us more vulnerable to boredom, anxiety, and depression.” Not a good recipe for happiness and success!

Not only does having a sense of purpose, focus, and direction in life provide us with a baseline for happiness, it makes our lives less complicated and stressful and allows us to get up each morning with an enhanced self-esteem and healthy focus and direction, empowering us to channel our mental and physical energies toward productive pursuits.

Are you looking for guidance to find a sense of purpose in your life? All of us at one point or another have found ourselves at a point where we had to make decisions about the focus and direction we want our lives to take. When you’re at such a crossroads, it’s often a wise idea to look towards those who have blazed their own trail and found success, fulfillment, and a sense of purpose in their lives.

One such intrepid trailblazer is Camille Jones, the 2017 Teacher of the Year in the state of Washington. Camille is a dedicated and focused professional who has dedicated her life to teaching students the core components of STEAM—science, technology, engineering, arts, and math. As of this writing, she works with children of varying ages and abilities at Pioneer Elementary in Quincy, a school with approximately 400 students in a small rural town in Central Washington.

Camille found her path for success in life, and there’s a lot we can learn from her approach. Let’s take a closer look at the lessons this extraordinary teacher has provided us.

Trust your instincts.

Camille Jones defied conventional wisdom that a STEAM education is meant for older students and saw tremendous value and opportunity in introducing younger children to embrace science and technology at a young age. She trusted her instincts rather than following the crowd, and the students she has worked with have benefitted tremendously as a result. When you’re making decisions in your life, be sure to listen to your instincts.

Preparing for the future.

Camille recognized early on that students who are well-equipped at an early age with a multi-faceted education in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math are best positioned for future opportunities and success. If you’re searching for new opportunities in life, you’d be well-served to have a similarly nuanced and all-inclusive education.

Discover your purpose.

Camille saw a real problem in the world—students who were being ill-prepared for future competitiveness and success in the global job market. She recognized that dedicated and focused individuals were needed to address it and took on the challenge. This infused Camille with a sense of purpose and meaning that she has used to make a difference.

Follow her lead—find a challenge to dedicate your life to and focus your time, energy, and efforts towards making a positive and lasting difference.

Push yourself.

Camille recognizes the importance of getting outside of your comfort zone and challenging yourself and others to reach their full potential. She does this every day with her students and says, “I’m looking for kids who would benefit from being pushed a little harder… I see kids who are struggling to buy into the idea that they should try things that are hard. And kids who are succeeding become better advocates for challenging work. When you do something difficult and new, your brain grows. It changes your attitude and your perspective on the rest of your education.” Bottom line—don’t be afraid to push yourself to achieve new levels of success.

Pay it forward.

Camille knows that we are all working together towards a shared and common future, and empowering those around us benefits all of us. Jones has found great success in challenging and guiding young minds towards tackling the needs of the future, which will help create a brighter future. When trying to decide your life’s purpose and direction, don’t forget that making a positive and lasting impact on others is not only valuable and important, it’s also essential for our shared future.

There you have it—strategies for finding your successful path in life from a real trailblazer. Use these strategies to find your purpose in life and achieve new levels of success and happiness. Good luck!

About the author

Eric Titner

Eric is a NYC-based editor and writer, with years of experience in career-focused content development across a wide range of industries.