Semhar Ghebreselasie, 26, is a proud Nashville native and a fifth-grade teacher in her third year of teaching at a Lead Academy Prep School.
After graduating from high school, Semhar went on to receive her undergraduate degree from Western Kentucky University in 2013.
FINDING a FUTURE
“College was fun, and it was nice because I wasn’t too far from home,” she said.
For Semhar, the first year of college was difficult because she missed being home and her family, but once she started making more friends and becoming more comfortable she began to enjoy her time there.
“It is always kind of awkward for an 18-year-old leaving the house for the first time, but I loved it,” she said.
Semhar always loved working with kids. Going to college, she wanted to open up her own daycare.
“I first went the business route, but then I realized you don’t have to have a business degree to do that, so I started looking at other options.”
Semhar volunteered at some local schools in Kentucky and discovered she wanted to pursue a degree in education. She said from there she decided just to go for it and now looking back she’s glad she did.
COMING BACK HOME
When Semhar came back home after being gone for college, she said Nashville was almost an entirely different city.
“When I was in high school, I didn’t do much other than school and hang out with my friends, so there was still so much for me to do here. After I had moved back everything was growing so rapidly so, I feel as though there’s still so much for me here.”
Semhar lived at home with her parents following her graduation, but just recently bought a house in southeast Nashville at the beginning of the year.
She said it’s been great to be out on her own and be independent.
“I love my job. I love the kids and people I work with, so being able to feel that independence and go to work every day and enjoy what you do is nice,” she said. “To be able to go out in the city and feel like there’s so much here is great too.”
Semhar said the past couple of years have been wonderful, and she’s looking forward to spending more time in the city she loves.
“Maybe one day I’ll move but right now this is home, and this is comfort.”
BEING a TEACHER, MAKING a DIFFERENCE
For Semhar, the best parts about her job are the small joys every day.
“Even though it sounds cliché, going to work and realizing you’re making a difference every day means something. When I see kids smiling and I plan a lesson, and it goes the way it’s supposed to it feels good to know they’re learning.”
Semhar said teaching also has its fair share of challenges as well.
“It’s a lot of work and long hours. Of course, the pay isn’t great, and there can be a lot of pressure on testing,” she said.
Semhar isn’t the biggest fan of standardize testing because she said it doesn’t accurately depict how students are performing or how they learn.
“It’s not fair to grade solely on one test. Thankfully my school does a plethora of tests throughout the year, so the pressure doesn’t feel as heavy, but it is still there,” she said. “There’s good and bad. If a child wakes up in a bad mood that day or if they had a bad week or they didn’t eat breakfast and decides not to care it can affect how he or she does.”
COMMUNITY and a FORWARD FUTURE
Semhar said being a native Nashvillian makes her a rare breed.
“There are not very many of us who were born and raised here,” she said. “I don’t mind the changes. I like being able to see new things, but then I also feel that part of our home is being destroyed.”
She said Nashville has to find some balance and that starting fresh isn’t always a bad thing for the community.
“A community is a group of people who work together and are there for each other when they need each other.”
Semhar said to be a part of a community means to work with people and to be there for them when they need it. She said it’s respecting other people’s cultures and backgrounds and to truly care and empathize with them.
Along with feeling very affectionate with her hometown, Semhar does have her concerns – one of them being affordable housing. She said she’s heard of people being pushed out and having to move out further in the suburbs around the city because of the increasing prices. She said she’s hoping that doesn’t have to be her.
“As Nashville grows, I hope the city continues to find affordable housing for people,” she said. She said transportations and traffic are also issues that are important to her.
Semhar is now pursuing a Master’s degree at Belmont University in organizational leadership and communication.
“Education has always been important to me, and I’ve always loved learning,” she said. “After I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree, I realized that the more education I had, the more opportunities would open up for me.”
Thinking about her professional career, Semhar knew that furthering her education was the next logical step in achieving her goals. She hopes to finish her next degree in August of 2017.
Semhar said God and her family matters most in her life.
Thanks for reading Nashville!