By Fellow Troy Rivera (CO)

I’m a teacher in Colorado, as well as a member of the Colorado Education Association (CEA) and America Achieves Fellowship for Teachers and Principals (AAFTP). 

In the last five years, my professional career has changed significantly. When I look back from 2010 to now, I am proud of what the CEA  and AAFTP have done for me. They have helped shape my profession and my craft as an educator.

Research has shown that a person must invest in themselves in order to grow professionally. Whether it be furthering your education or taking on leadership roles, investing can be challenging! We must know what sacrifices are involved before taking on an new endeavor. But I've found that investing in the teaching profession is not a chore, it’s a reward. 

I have been a member of the CEA for over 13 years. I served in many local leadership roles for the association before taking on  state and national roles. As a member, I have the opportunity of attending motivating and inspiring conferences and participating in professional development. I have gained new knowledge of the challenges at the state and national level. I have learned to elevate my voice and build strategies to enhance the teaching profession. I have become a better educator for my students and community.

CEA is not the only organization that has impacted my life. The America Achieves Fellowship for Teachers and Principals has sparked a fire in me to be the best educator I can be. When I attend our convenings, I am inspired and motivated to come back and be a change agent for education.

AAFTP has given me the opportunity to present talks at various conferences, participate and lead  Twitter chats, serve as a Lead Fellow for my state, and run webinars to help educators throughout the state to become citizen influencers in education.

Because of AAFTP, I now mentor a group of educators on how to use Twitter to elevate their voices and advocate for education. This mentorship is called Edu-Tweeters. Each month I host webinars with tips and tools to help educators become comfortable and fluid with Twitter. It has been an amazing experience and has inspired me to lead others. 

My experience  being a member of both of these organizations has been outstanding.. I have been able to meet new people. I have been able to establish a Personal Learning Network (PLN). I have been able to become a better educator. 

Just the other day, a student made a comment that surprised me. The student stopped me in the hallway and said, “Mr. Rivera. You are a hard worker. You have passion in what you do. You are great at your craft and you care. You are the best educator here. How do you do it?” I didn’t know how to respond. I thought for a bit and said, “It’s what I do. I love my career and my profession. And because of several doors of opportunities and taking those steps through the doors, I have become who I am today.” 

The CEA and AAFTP - the doors of opportunity - are the ones I give credit to. Without these organizations and the  leadership they provided me,  I would not be where I am today professionally.

So, I highly encourage others to step through the doors of opportunity. I highly encourage others to challenge themselves by experiencing new endeavors. I highly encourage others to invest in their profession and in themselves. 

Troy Rivera teaches English at the high school level at University Schools in Greeley, Colorado. He has been teaching for over 14 years at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. Troy is a fellow with America Achieves, and his mission is to make all his students successful, lifelong learners.