The Value of Teaching

The alarm didn’t ring this morning.

It is a luxury of retirement.

As I look back on this summer, I have to chuckle. This retirement thing is not all about lunching and traveling and beach days. And while I have had my share of those things, I have worked most of the summer at two different jobs, and my last pay check was for $11.11.

Actually, I didn’t expect a paycheck at all, so don’t feel sorry for me.

The thing is, I have worked with many retired teachers this summer. These people have a lifelong commitment to make the world a better place. Untold hours of volunteering, at the ready to say yes to the things I have requested personally and professionally.

I am forever in awe of you and wish new teachers everywhere knew this type of connectedness. The network is vast. The people are awesome.

The best takeaway I have had from choosing to be an educator is the sense of community I feel. People opening doors of opportunities…a grant writer here…a retired superintendent or two…acting superintendents…community leaders…as well as my dear friends who know that good things come from hard and relentless work.

There is no career in the world that can connect you to people across the globe like this one does. I have corresponded with a Peace Corps couple in the Philippines, supported, with my class, a Lost Boy from Darfur, Africa, walked for CLEAN WATER, learned leadership tips in Italy, had pen pals in Japan, written to embassies on a global level, and sent messages and videos to a Gulf War soldier.

It is this view of the world that allows teachers to take their students along for the ride. We teach empathy and understanding of people we will never meet. We put the seed of diplomatic compassion into the minds of young people.

But today, we have a problem.

Teaching is hard work.

Potential new teachers are steered away by those discouraged by the current system. They go to tech jobs or industry, driven by the need to make money.

They are told there is lack of support.

And while that may currently seem true, I urge you to understand that in Education there is a paradigm shift brewing.

I believe, if we hold out, we will see what the Constitution guaranteed: An education for all Americans. (No strings or special schools. An educated populous). I truly believe that this country will begin to wake up to the fact that its citizens need to be armed with education, in order to flourish. We will lose the political "sidedness" for the good of ALL people. Let's hold onto that thought.

Let me tell you some things you will miss if you decide against teaching:·

- Former students making a mark on society by giving back in ways you never imagined

- Invitations to weddings of kids you once knew· Pride in seeing your students in leadership roles in community or government

- Thank you notes from students with fresh PhD’s from Johns Hopkins and Berkley

- Former students posting family pictures of their families

- Being stopped on the street in a different town and state by someone who says :”I think you were my teacher. I loved your class.”

-Relationships that are forged with those decades older and decades younger but somehow seem always on the same page.

-Atta Boy notes of validation from other teachers that keep you focused

-The realization that you could have been a millionaire doing something else, but will never be richer because of the service you have done for someone else.

Sure, everyone can choose to be anything they want. Being an educator is a literally mind blowing experience. It’s tough work and not for the weak at heart. But for all those people who are searching their hearts right now to decide what to do, I offer this simple truth: Teachers teach everyone else how to do their jobs. YOU shape the future with the foundation you lay for students. There is value that is intrinsic. Take a chance.

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