PLAINFIELD, NJ - No one ever enters the teaching profession because they are promised big paydays and short workdays. In fact, it's pretty much a guarantee that it will be exactly the opposite. Day after day, month after month and year after year; there is a remarkable group of people who get up and go into classrooms all across our nation and they shape minds and change lives.
Was there ever a group of individuals who deserved our thanks more and received it less? It's debatable... what is not debatable, however, is the impact they have on our lives and the lives of our children. As a teacher, you have the ability to influence every single industry and every facet of life. You may not teach rocket science, but that foundation laid which fosters a love of science and math positively influences the dream to be a rocket scientist.
I had a teacher in elementary school who lit a spark within me, his name was Mr. Dean, and he was my math teacher. He was a very disciplined man who loved figures, and his passion came through as he tried to ignite that love within us. I remember being very motivated when one day he asked a question of the class, and no one could answer, he sent for his son who was two grades behind us and posed the question to him. His son was able to give the correct answer, and I vowed to myself that, that would never happen again.
Thus began my love of math and figures. He ignited a fire which stayed with me through all my years of schooling and still burns today.
Teachers like Mr. Dean help the overachievers and the underachievers; It takes the extraordinary skill of teachers to encourage the quiet students to speak out and have confidence in their ability, and the confident ones to learn with humility. They are mentors and coaches; they take complex lessons and simplify them, they take mundane learning and make it magical, they ferret out our hidden skills and reveal them to the world, they teach us life skills and coping mechanisms, they are quietly heroic, they educate, and they inspire us.
Teachers at the very least, impart knowledge, and at their best, they elevate young minds and teach them to soar and dream. They do this for the most part without accolades, without acknowledgment, in many cases with little or no resources. I know teachers who buy supplies and learning aids from the little that they get paid, they do it because they know how important their job is and because they care.
It is an indictment on our society that teachers are paid less than most other professions, and I feel strongly that we must work to change that. A teacher should never have to worry about paying rent, or buying a car, or paying essential bills like light and water. At the end of the day - teachers are our real heroes and sheroes... and I for one will continue to support them, and fight with them until their compensation is requisite to their efforts.