Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Out of the Kitchen, Into the Classroom: National Teacher Day

In the U.S. yesterday was National Teacher Day. This is the day once a year that everyone is supposed to honor teachers, which is what they do in this country instead of paying us anywhere near what we should be getting paid for job that requires such a complex set of skills to do it well.

I know, I know, there are a lot of bad teachers out there, or so the critics of public schools are constantly reminding us. I can honestly say that most of the teachers at my school are pretty good, but there are a couple who should be doing something else. But I find it interesting that in a world where businesses routinely offer insanely huge salaries to lure CEO's, people don't seem to make the connection that as long as teachers' salaries are still relatively low, taxpayers will be getting what they pay for in many cases.

Not that there aren't some brilliant people teaching school. Not to brag or anything, but I'm certainly smart enough to have a "real" job, and I have a number of friends who are way up there in the I.Q. points who are good teachers. But there are a lot of average teachers out there, just as there are a lot of average students. Maybe it's the law of averages? But I can't help but think it has a lot to do with the below-average salaries of teachers.

I've been teaching school for 27 years now, with four years out of the classroom serving as president of my local teacher's union (that's a topic for another time!) There have been days I loved the job and days I hated it, days I worked hard and days I hardly worked, days the kids were adorable and days they were horrible. I would have to say that most of the time it's a job that has given me a lot of satisfaction, but maybe not quite as much intellectual stimulation as I might have liked. (Note to self: in next life plan to teach high school civics.)

But there are some perks of the job you just can't replace. Yesterday I was standing in the hall, and I had on my new white jeans (size 6) and a pretty snazzy new teal blue top. A little first grade girl came up and tugged on my shirt. I had never laid eyes on her before, but I looked down (way down!) and said "Hi." She looked up at me with big blue eyes and said in a kind of dreamy sounding voice, "You're pretty."

Now, you just can't beat that for a good work environment can you?

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More to Chew On:


  1. I still see my kindergarten/3rd grade teacher at church when I'm home, she beams when I recall tidbits from those years. As adults, it's easy to forget that, except for parents and siblings, teachers were the most important people in our lives during those years. So Thank You, Ms Denny, for making such a difference in so many young lives ... Alanna

  2. I have the same opinion as AK. I went to the same school from when I was 3 years old to 15 years old and I remember the teachers more than anything about the school. You spend so much time at school that teachers become part of your family too. It is just amazing thinking about it. Although we moved out of that town when I was 15, I still keep in touch with my friends who live in that town and ask about my teachers ALL THE TIME.

  3. It is a tough job with too little appriciation and pay. My sister teaches high school in the LA area, so she has the added pleasures of dealing with adoledcent minds in huge adult bodies all day long, plus a long commute through tough traffic each way. I'm not entirely sure why she does it, but I know many of her students are glad she does!

  4. that is so sweet!

    my roommate is a high school pe teacher and she is always bringing home stories of fights and gangs. there is always so much going on with students that age.

    with a 6 year old in kindergarten i panic every time i think about him having to move up a grade. and i pray for him to get teachers that care.

  5. From one teacher to another, a big pat on the back. We work hard, we are emotionally invested in our students and their successes and when you do it well, there are no "summers off"! As for the pay, it may never change, but we sure do get a lot of other rewards that most people in "real jobs" never experience.

  6. AK, luv2cook, surfindaave, barbie2be, and anonymous, thanks for the nice comments. I think most people have a soft spot in their hearts for at least a few of their teachers.

  7. I found out recently that my Kindergarten Teacher, Mrs. Ellis had died. (Did you have her Kalyn?) I was saddened to hear this. The surprising thing was that through my five year old eyes I thought she was near death when I was in Kindergarten.

  8. No Rand, I didn't have Mrs. Ellis. My kindergarten/first grade teacher was Mrs. Eames. I remember she had a workbench out in the hall and when you finished your work you could go out and hammer nails into boards. I was quite the carpenter.

  9. hi kalyn, i didn´t leave u a note about buckwheat.. yeah, it was all new to me. I only knew it in the form of Soba noodles and pancakes. Here in spain and france, they even use the grains to make something like a´s an indispensable item for a health-concious kitchen.

  10. Being a teacher is thankless, but even more so as the President of your local.


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