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Brianna DeCamp

EDT 246: Cultural Autobiography

September 12, 2014
Culture is a complex constellation of values, mores, norms, customs, ways of being,
ways of knowing, and traditions that provides a general design for living, is passed from
generating to generation, and serves as a pattern for interpreting reality (Culture, p. 51). So who
am I, and what does my culture look like? I am a daughter, a big sister, a girlfriend, a niece, a
granddaughter, and a friend. My nickname is Breezy and I like to have a smile on my face. I am
a dreamer and an achiever. I am a student and a learner. I love being outdoors and my favorite
thing to do in my free time is to ride my horse down my country road. I am a passionate person
who enjoys helping others achieve success. I am unique, fun, talented, easy-going, and caring. I
enjoy riding horses, being around my friends and family, running, water skiing, watching
movies, camping, watching my sisters play volleyball, and flying in airplanes. In high school I
was a competitive dancer, varsity athlete, a 4H member, and an honor roll student. I am all of
these things today because of where I come from and the people who have had a hand in raising
me. They have molded and shaped me into the individual I am today and I could not imagine
being anything else. Tom Poetter writes in his book entitled Teacher Leadership, surely the
time we spend outside of school and our experiences there have profound implications for who
we are and who we become as people, as teachers (Poetter, 2014, p. 31). Truly, this sentence
reflects my experience and who I have become from my experiences at home and school.
I come from a family of hard working individuals. My grandpa was a farmer, my uncle
is a veterinarian, one of my cousins is in medical school, my mom has her Masters degree, and
my dad owns his own business and regularly works a 75-hour week. Many of my family
members show me on a daily basis what it looks like to be a diligent, hard working individual.

For me, growing up in a household where I was expected to pitch in and be an active member of
the family taught me many valuable life lessons. I learned how to be an older sister, a role
model, a caring and compassionate person, and a hard worker, among many other things. The
family, home, and community I come from have set me up for success and have greatly
influenced my beliefs, values, and morals. I have been loved and supported my whole life in the
decisions I have made and I am confident that I will be loved and supported in my future
ambitions as well.
Kendallville, Indiana, is where I call home. I live in a small, rural town in northeast
Indiana. Our town population is 9,888 people. My town is simple, yet the people who call it
home are far from that. Kendallville has produced a NBA star, an Olympic long-distance runner,
a Miss Indiana, and three Miss Indiana Outstanding Teens. I would classify myself as a
homebody. I love my family and extended family dearly. I am named after my dad, Brian, and I
have three crazy and wonderful younger sisters. Our parents have been extremely involved in
our lives. Mom sacrificed her career as a Speech Pathologist when I was born to stay home to
raise my sisters and I. My family lives in a big, white house with green shutters and a red barn in
the middle of the country. My parents built our home when I was four years old on a piece of
farmland where my grandpa planted his corn. Our neighbors across the road are also farmers
and they raise dairy cattle. The alternating cornfield and soybean field where I ride my horses on
my grandparents land next to my house is where I call my happy place. My family owns five
horses, four hens, two dogs, two cats, and two bunnies.
Diversity in my hometown is almost irrelevant. There is, however, a fairly large
population of families from the Middle East as they specifically come to Kendallville for factory
jobs. When I was young, my best friend was African American. We attended the same school

for many years and played club soccer together as well as high school soccer. Her skin color had
no effect on me. I love her for who she is and she has always been a great friend to me.
I spent my elementary years at a private Lutheran school in town called St. Johns. I
attended St. Johns from morning pre-school through the fifth grade, as did my younger sisters.
The exterior of the building was old brick and there was an old Lutheran church attached to the
one side, while the other side of the building had a newer sanctuary that was added on. The
inside of the school is old and simple. The gym and cafeteria are open in the middle of the
building with classrooms surrounding the two sides on two levels. I have very fond memories of
all of my teachers from St. Johns and still remain in contact today with a few of them. Every
grade level was small with usually 13-18 students in each class with the girls far outweighing the
boys. I specifically remember in my morning kindergarten class, we had only two boys. As
years passed, our class gained more boys and in fifth grade, we had a total of 8. Those students
became my good friends and our whole class was close to one another. Additionally, nearly the
entire school population was white, and came from middle class families. My class, however,
was an exception, as we had two adoptive black twins who became my childhood best friends. I
never remember talking openly about having two students in my class with a different skin color
and no one in my class ever brought it up. It simply did not matter to us because we were all
friends. Reflecting back on the decision my parents made, I am happy that I was schooled in a
private setting for my grade school years. St. Johns laid a solid, academic, Christian-based
curriculum foundation for me. Classes were small and I was sheltered from swear words and
possible bullies among other issues that sometimes accompany public schools.
In the sixth grade, I transitioned to the public school. My new school was Central Noble
and it was located in a small farm town west of my hometown, in Albion, Indiana. Central

Noble was small in size and again, had very little diversity. The students who attended mainly
came from the farming community. I stayed at Central Noble for two years and then, my eightgrade year, I switched districts and attended East Noble Middle School. My parents decided to
make the transition to a different district because the East Noble Cooperation was closer to
where we lived and my dad worked in Kendallville. I was nervous to change schools my eightgrade year as I would be moving to a much bigger middle school and did not know many of the
students. Nevertheless, I had a fairly smooth transition and enjoyed playing middle school
volleyball, basketball, and running for the track and field team. Like the town of Kendallville,
East Noble Middle School was lacking in diversity. We had a small population of Hispanic
students and a handful of students from the Middle East but that was the extent of it.
I graduated from East Noble High School, also in Kendallville. Similar to my middle
school experiences, I enjoyed playing sports and being a student. While high school failed to
provide me with more diversity, it did give me more classes to choose from. In my senior year
of high school, I participated in an academic and college credited course called Health
Occupations Education because I thought I had wanted to go into the medical field. I spent my
mornings in hospitals and other various medical settings shadowing professionals. Hence,
through my senior year of high school, I did get to experience more real-world situations.
From the select teacher education and leadership classes I have had so far at Miami
University, I see how important it is to be exposed to different cultures, beliefs, and ways of life.
Reflecting upon my academic career thus far, sadly I do not think I am culturally well rounded.
My friends, who were of different races, were very Americanized; they thought and behaved just
as the rest from my culture. When I become a teacher, I will teach the way I have been taught.
And my teachers have all taught White, middle to low class students. I do not have much

experience with other cultures and races and frankly, that frightens me. I cannot help where I
was raised, however, now that I am older, I can help to a certain extent, who I am educated by to
prepare me for my future teaching career. I am just beginning, and learning to see how
important it is to know how to teach students from various cultures and races. This will be a
challenge for me because I did not have examples of teachers who knew how to teach students
from cultures other than White, middle to low class students.
My culture aligns closely with that of my familys. I believe, say, and do the things I do
because of my family and the way I have been brought up. My parents have been raised in such
a way, my sisters and I have been raised in such a way, and I suspect I will also raise my own
children in the same way that has been passed down in my family for a long time.
A great deal of the individual I am today is because of my faith. My religious beliefs are
affiliated with nondenominational Christianity. Both of my parents were raised in the church, as
were my sisters and I. The church we attend as a family in Kendallville is the same church my
mom grew up in as a little girl. Because Christ-following parents raised me, my morals and
values do not come from worldly views but rather come from my religious affiliations. Some of
my grounded beliefs are that couples should remain abstinent until marriage, that abortion is
wrong, that marriage should be between a man and a woman, and that there is a heaven and a
hell. My relationship with Christ is my identity. I am a daughter of the King and there is
nothing I could ever do to diminish that free gift. Many of the things I say and do in my life are
because of who I am in my identity in Christ.
The only thing I look back on and wish it would have been different were my financial
responsibilities. I am beyond blessed and very grateful that my dad has a great business that is in
good financial standing. While in the past my family has had financial hardships, my parents are

able to pay for my full college tuition. I feel that I am at a disadvantage in some regards because
my parents have been able to provide for me and I have very little financial responsibilities. I am
extremely thankful for this, yet maybe having more financial responsibilities in the past may
have helped me in the future when I start paying for my own bills. In conclusion, my past
reflects who I am today. I will carry over the skills I have learned all my life into my classroom
and I hope to have the influence on my students that my role models have had on me. I am
happy with the woman I am becoming and I know I will be a great teacher leader and role model
for my future students some day.

The alternating cornfield and soybean field where I ride my horses on my grandparents land
next to my house is where I call my happy place.

Culture. (n.d.). In Why Race and Culture Matter (p. 51).
Poetter, T. (2014). Reflection for Teaching Leaders: Autobiography and the Teaching Platform.
In Teacher Leadership - For the Twenty-First Century (2nd ed., p. 31). Cincinnati: VanGriner Publishing.