The cover story of the September 24 issue of Time focuses on teachers.
The article was of interest to me, as I have the greatest respect for teachers – knowing I could never do that job, that I would never have the endless patience, endurance, and dedication that so many teachers demonstrate every day.
Having known many teachers in my life – in classrooms and, later, in friendships – I consider teaching both a profession and a vocation. The difference:
Profession: a paid occupation, especially one that involves prolonged training and a formal qualification.
Vocation: a person’s employment or main occupation, especially regarded as particularly worthy and requiring great dedication.
I think of teaching as a higher calling, not in a religious way, but in a selfless way.
Nobody goes into teaching for the glamour, unless you consider dilapidated schools, overcrowded classrooms, outdated textbooks and threadbare supplies glamorous.
And nobody goes into teaching for the money; according to the Time article, “Annual pay for America’s public school teachers has barely budged in three decades.”
Teachers have impacted my life in many good ways and a few bad ways, and I prefer to focus on the good. With that in mind, I’ll share one story, from one year in school, when…
A teacher changed my life forever in fourth grade.
That teacher was Mrs. Snyder. To my nine-year-old eyes she was old-looking, older than my mother, more like a grandmother, slightly stout, with short, graying blond hair and ordinary clothes. Nothing special about her, I thought.
How lucky I am that I was so wrong.
Mrs. Snyder quickly took control of all 50 of us – that’s 50 nine-year-old kids in her classroom. How did she do it? The same way any savvy teacher would:
She bribed us.
If we were good – and I mean very good – 15 minutes before lunchtime Mrs. Snyder would stop teaching, and read to us. Read to us? No teacher had done that before.
Not much of a reader, I didn’t know what to expect. She started with the first in the Little House series by Laura Ingalls Wilder, and soon I was caught up in the story about a girl who shared my first name.
If we were super good, and we were – all 50 of us – Mrs. Snyder would read to us again, for 15 minutes before the end of the school day. For 30 minutes a day I lived in the Little House in the Big Woods, followed by Little House on the Prairie. Then Mrs. Snyder began the next book, On the Banks of Plum Creek.
And then, the school year ended.
Oh, no! No more Laura and Mary and Pa? No Mrs. Snyder to read to me? I was really sad.
So Mom took me to the library, helped me get a card and now I could follow Laura’s story myself. And so I did, follow Laura’s story, and the stories of thousands of people all captured between the covers of books.
Reading became one of my greatest pleasures – and necessities.
That’s how my life changed forever in fourth grade.
Mrs. Snyder didn’t teach me to read.
She taught me to love it.
Perhaps someday, someone will help me understand why we pay people more to entertain us – than to teach us.
|Rosa Jimenez, Teacher
|Hope Brown, Teacher
|NaShonda Cooke, Teacher
Mixed Marital Arts