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Why Do You Teach?

By Bobby Hart, Hope Public Schools Superintendent, 05/10/18 3:14 PM

Many have asked the title question to me and to other educators throughout our careers. “You have much more to offer the world; you could make more money; and you could be a ton less pressured”, are some of the statements that follow this inquiry. Today, I was reminded, again, why I have selected this profession and why I am so fortunate to have made it my career for over 23 years. I had the honor of watching a terrific educator come into my office and proudly plop down a transcript on my desk. It was filled with C’s and D’s and a few A’s and B’s to go along with the string of F’s that were apparently a result of some poor decisions made by the student during their freshman and sophomore years of high school. Scrolling down to the bottom, I saw that the total credit line listed “24” as the total completed. I immediately realized what the long-time educator in front of me was excited about. “She’s going to make it; she’s going to walk with her class” he stated, smiling from ear to ear; and, a gleam in his eyes let me know that his excitement was genuine.
This administrator had been working with a particular student and her family for over a year to assist her in gaining enough credits to graduate. Their goal was to have her “walk” and participate in graduation ceremonies with the class of students she came into school with 13 years ago as a kindergartener. Life’s circumstances, and some lackluster decisions, had placed this young lady in a position that she not only was in danger of falling behind her class, there was also a real likelihood that she would drop out of school and never graduate. The latter would most likely lead to a loss of earning power that may have led to more poor choices. But, with the help of a dedicated educator, and support from her family, this young lady’s future is taking a different path. Why? Because someone believed in her and refused to give up on her when it would have been easier to have simply allowed her to give up. This student performed amazingly because someone believed in her. Imagine what could happen if all the adults in the building believed in all the kids in the building?
Educators like the one above are everywhere in schools today. They get through to some students and, sadly, others don’t have the same successes. These teachers are asked to be so many different things for children. Sometimes the role of instructor gets pushed down on the list; somewhere below protector, advocate, and motivator is where the “instruction” fits in. We hold our military, our law enforcement officials, our first responders in high regard. The occupation of teacher is no less heroic, and no less critical to the success and future of our communities and country. In the future don’t ask, “Why do you teach?” Just say, “Tell me about the great things you do for kids.” When their eyes light up, and they tell you the success and improvements their students have made, you will know that they are a teacher who cares. Thank them for caring and for their service.