by Johanna Parr
Klondike Lane Elementary
When someone asks, “What do you do for a living?” many professionals reply with a simple explanation. An artist says, “I create vivid paintings,” a writer boasts, “I produce engaging novels,” and a musician asserts, “I conceive unforgettable symphonies.” When a teacher is asked the same question, the answer is not quite as simple. Teachers don’t produce famous sculptures or ballets. Instead, we are given the incredible opportunity to help mold these creative minds. Every doctor, president, veterinarian and all persons in any field of work have been touched by an educator. In other words, teachers transform students into lifetime learners and performers.
And you ask, “Why do you teach?” I teach because it is an opportunity of a lifetime. No one on this earth has the ability to touch so many lives in such a fleeting period of time as a teacher. Throughout the eighteen years of my career, I have taught over 432 students and before I retire, I will have taught hundreds more. Over the years, I have established relationships with my students and connected with them on a very special level. I have attended their extracurricular activities, graduations and watched them grow into responsible, talented adults. And if that is not enough, I have had the good fortune of watching my students embrace life. Countless drawings, letters and emails of love and hope from both former students and family members have been graciously shared with
When I hear the news of a student getting accepted into college and/or that I made a difference in his/her life in some other way, it surpasses any kind of happiness and satisfaction I could experience elsewhere. What other profession could be more rewarding than teaching; rest assured no other. There is no six-figure salary or severance package that compares to watching a child grow up to become a good person.
I take pride in teaching students to read and write but more importantly, I value the vital role I take in helping them recognize they are loved, have self-worth and understand the importance of contributing to society. Many times, I read or hear that teachers get shorted. I couldn’t disagree more. The teaching profession is by far the noblest and rewarding out of any career. In the past, educators were solely responsible for teaching the curriculum. Current teachers teach the “whole” child including self-help skills, character education and preparing them for the “real world.” Teachers have the privilege of influencing what our future looks like. Every school day my colleagues and I have the opportunity to make the most of our students’ seven-hour day. When a child is lacking something in their life, we can do everything in our power to help. Every bit of darkness and sadness children experience outside of school can be brightened for a brief time at school by a teacher who showers them with love and positivity.
My hope is that every educator recognizes what an honor it is to help shape young minds and seize the opportunity that is before them. Teaching is not a burden, rather, a gift that keeps giving, not only to the teacher herself, but to her students and society. The next time someone asks a teacher, “What do you do for a living?” An accurate response would be, “I help students reach their dreams.” There is no greater opportunity in life than to help mold and shape the next Pierre-Auguste Renoir, Ludwig van Beethoven or Agatha Christie of the next generation.