As a student, and seeing how students behave, it can be difficult to imagine why someone would want to become a teacher. We see them being harassed by our classmates, working hard hours, and then having to take home yet more papers and exams to grade. However, for some people, becoming a teacher or administrator is a passion, and a life goal.
For Mr. Zaleski, a LCJSMS physical educator, motivation struck closer to home. As his father was a gym teacher, he stated that he felt he was “essentially, joining the family business.” Mr. Parks, the assistant principal of curriculum and instruction, said, “I want to make sure that instructional strategies being applied throughout the building are as current and effective as possible. I have good memories of my own schooling and want to recreate the good experience so other students can enjoy these years as much as I did.” Mr. Heaney said, “I wanted to help kids make the most of situations and learn about cause and effects, and help shape kids to make smart decisions and learn from their mistakes. . . I would love to do middle school and high school again. I definitely didn’t work hard enough, and now I realize that it does affect your future and you don’t get second chances, and I know my mom would be proud to hear me say this.”
For Mr. Breivogel, an eighth grade math teacher, his childhood dream was to become a teacher, and he became a math teacher because that was his area of expertise. Some of the students here at LCJSMS had similar interests when they were young, but for all of them, these interests have dissipated. One such student, Kaitlin S., said that she decided she didn’t want to teach, because she didn’t want to have to grade tests and papers all the time. Alex M. wanted to be a Spanish teacher, but changed her mind when she began taking a Spanish class in elementary school. Eighth grader Lucy W. said she wanted to be a teacher because she thought playing school was fun, but that she changed her mind, because she now thinks teaching would be boring. Alex S. said that she wanted to teach because her favorite teacher told her she would make a really good teacher. When asked why she changed her mind, she said “Because after going to school for so long, I don’t want to go to school any more.” According to Ariana T., “It would be hard to try to teach kids that don’t want to learn.”
Mr Mazouat is a substitute for Mrs. Rodriguez while she is on maternity leave. When asked whether he likes teaching in Summit or not, he said, “Yes, the children are for the most part nice and well-behaved.” He previously student-taught at an inner-city middle school. “They’re very different. The kids here and there all had a very different set of advantages and disadvantages. . . Students that grow up used to doing something will not be as good at other things. Students who grow up singing or drawing will be better at singing or drawing all their lives.”
All these high expectations can be hard to manage. We asked some teachers whether they felt they have achieved their goal. Mr. Heaney, whose goal was stated above, said “For some kids I have. Moreso when I was teaching, because it’s harder as an administrator. . . I’m lucky to not be one of those people who goes home every day and goes, ‘I hate my job.’ because I know a lot of my friends do that.” Mr. Breivogel, when asked whether or not he would, knowing all about the teaching industry that he knows now, choose to become a teacher, said, “I don’t know. Probably yes, but reluctantly. Because financially it’s not as easy anymore.” When asked their dream careers, the answers varied. For Mr. Breivogel, he would ideally be a professional golfer; amid jokes and laughter, Mr. Heaney announced that he wants to be a sports announcer, and Mr. Parks professed his desire to be a professional video-game tester.
Megan McKenzie is a student at Lawton C. Johnson Summit Middle School and is writing this column as part of a class assignment.