By: Kirsten Rose
It does not matter how slowly you go as long as you do not stop. For physics teacher Irene Tsavaris, Confucius’ words regarding patience could not be more accurate.
Tsavaris began college at the University of Maryland with the intent to pursue a career in astronomy, even going as far as obtaining an internship at NASA during her junior year.
Despite enjoying the program, she learned that astronomy would have been a career based on conducting research, something Tsavaris said she couldn’t see herself being content with.
“Even though I originally went into college thinking I wanted to study astronomy, I eventually decided it wouldn’t be the right career for me,” she said.
After leaving her first career path behind, she tried engineering and architecture, while she was still in college, to see if one of them would suit her personality better. Tsavaris decided the two career paths were amazing but they would not fit what she was specifically looking for in a job.
Her final option was to pursue the idea of becoming a teacher. She never expected to head in this direction, but once she experienced other career paths, she decided it would be the one position that fit what she was looking for. Through her high school and her early college years, she said she had always found the profession intriguing.
Combining her knowledge of the sciences and the passion she knew she had to share it with others, Tsavaris began the four-year process to achieve her masters degree in physics.
Tsavaris said college was challenging, but it didn’t mean she decided to just give up.
“While I never wanted to quit,” she said, “there were moments when the courses got very difficult so I would surround myself with friends and family who would get me through my college experience. Even though I had a rough couple of years in college, I’m happy I never gave up.”
After Tsavaris earned her degree in physics in 2009, she spent the next year completing her masters degree while substitute teaching. She slowly opened herself up to her new lifestyle as she finished her last year in college.
Tsavaris ended up moving to California because of a new job opportunity opened up for her husband. While there, she became a long term substitute at several middle schools.
“I was able to learn a lot about what it takes to be a teacher while I was there, but my favorite part was the scenery around the school,” she said.
Tsavaris, who eventually ended up with her first real teaching job at Bethesda Chevy Chase High School in Maryland, said she had a very difficult time during her first couple of years being a full time teacher. She struggled while she got comfortable with the new curriculum and balancing her work life and social life out.
“The new curriculum was difficult to get used to, especially because I had to grade papers and teach the lessons on top of getting to know the curriculum,” she said.
Although at this point in her career path seemed impossible, Tavaris never wanted to give up.
After her first couple of years teaching, she transferred to Hammond High School where she taught for eight years. She loved the school, but decided to take a year off to focus on her family.
When she decided it was time to go back to school she heard about a physics position at Glenelg.
Tsavaris heard from multiple people that Glenelg would be a great opportunity for her, and the rest is history. She began at the beginning of this school year as a physics teacher; so far, she said she is loving the students and community, and the opportunity for growth.
“In general, my students are kind, hard-working, and want to do well,” Tsavaris said. “Parents are invested in their children's education and have been very supportive so far.”
It is safe to say Tsavaris has learned many life lessons that she wouldn’t have learned if she had given up during difficult moments. She was patient with herself and ended up having an amazing job that she appreciates.
“I am very happy with where I am now and I’m looking forward to the rest of the year,” she said.
Despite the long road it took to get to Glenelg, the journey, a result of patience, was all worth it.