By Christa Verem
It’s my pleasure to introduce Trina O’Gorman, whom I’ve had the the privilege of seeing in action both in the classroom and the pick-up line at our kids’ elementary school. In this profile, Trina shares her love of travel and a testament to the power of journaling.
How did you get started teaching?
Teaching was not my first career. My decision to teach came later in life. I returned to college in my early 30s to earn my MAT in Teaching Secondary English, a decision that had more to do with a desire to connect to and do something for others or generativity, rather than a desire to “teach English” or a love for a particular content area. I love people and the power of writing.
What do you appreciate about teaching?
I appreciate the opportunity to share my experiences with my students and to empower them by helping them understand the process of writing, which I think is largely about understanding their own thinking and values and the thinking and values of others. And I learn so much from my students. I think teaching is such an amazing opportunity to affect positive change, but also to honor our humanity.
What do you find challenging about teaching?
Grading! I love learning. I embrace and believe that learning is lifelong and should be structured as such. But, as educators, papers need to be graded, students need to be assessed, and semesters end. Based on a student’s experiences, motivation, and circumstances, they may never return to some of the things we’ve started. Many get their final grade and that’s it. Some will never read another book again or ever take pleasure in writing because of the way education is structured and defined. That kind of breaks my heart.
Do you have a teaching moment or experience you’re particularly proud of?
I try to teach in such a way that I inspire my students to believe they have the power to foster change, so I have many little moments that I find fulfilling and satisfying.
How do you manage the paper load?
Barely. That’s my best and my honest answer, and if anyone says anything else, I’m not sure I trust them. I’m kidding, sort of.
If you weren’t teaching what career would you pursue?
A post-divorce transformation coach. It’s not a thing, but I’m making it a thing.
What other intellectual, artistic, professional or personal pursuits are you working on?
I have a pretty robust presence on Instagram, where I share my experience with grief, primarily that relating to my separation, divorce, and subsequent death of my husband. I have, over the past few years, shared my journaling process, which has been my lifelong way of dealing with my sh*t. It turns out, it helps a lot of people. So, I’ve used Instagram as a way of branching out and teaching online workshops, live workshops, and now some one-on-one life coaching. I’m also working with a professional coach now on developing a program for divorce recovery/transformation. My focus is still on writing, but on a much more personal and transformative level.
How do you find time for these other pursuits?
I am my children’s only surviving parent, so I am juggling a lot and I don’t have a lot of spare time. However, I have chosen to continue teaching part-time, so I can use my love of writing in this other way. I am diligent about maintaining a work/life balance, and I work very hard to maintain that harmony in my home. My kids (and I) have been through a lot, so that peace is critical for us.
How do you spend your summers?
I have 16- and 11-year-old boys. We like the slower pace of summer. There’s summer camp for them. There’s more writing and reading for me. We love to travel and my former husband’s family is mostly in Dublin, and the boys and I are dual citizens — US and Ireland. So, we try to go to Ireland frequently, but we love travel adventures to other places as well. Additionally, we’re pretty physically active. We all take taekwondo. My 16-year-old and I are 2nd degree black belts and my younger son just earned his 1st degree black belt, so we enjoy that together. We like to be outside and have recently discovered camping! So, we might try to do some more of that.
What are you reading?
I’m currently reading Women & Power: A Manifesto by Mary Beard.
I love podcasts. I love How I Built This, Women & Money with Suze Orman, and The Minimalists.
I never actually watch TV. We rarely even turn it on.
What’s your ideal Saturday?
Taekwondo, socializing with friends, and dining out.
Favorite local spot?
We love NYC so much – the sights, museums, etc. We are actually going to go stay in NY for three days this week, just so we can explore and not have to rush home while they are on spring break.
Favorite Jersey beach?
Where would you like to travel?
Paris is high on our list. My former spouse and I were married in Alaska, at the base of Mount McKinley, and the boys really want to go to Alaska.
Thanks Trina! Have any thoughts or questions for our colleague? Post them below. To keep up with Trina, follow her on Instagram @ninjatraveling.