I have two amazing children. One, a junior in high school, and the other a sophomore in college. The older is the one I want to talk about. My daughter is 19 years old and continuing her education at Oklahoma Christian University. While in high school, she accomplished many things, most relating to academic excellence. A few of those include class valedictorian, a 4.0 gpa, captain of her quiz bowl team, numerous scholastic competition awards, was selected to the OACA Academic All- State team, two academic state championships in English/Grammar, and a 32 composite score on her ACT. In addition, she was a leader in her youth group, received the FFA State Farmer degree, and was president of her local FFA chapter. Do you remember the phrase “My future’s so bright I have to wear shades”? That’s my girl.
If you’ve stopped reading because I am clearly one of “those” obnoxious mothers, well you are correct, I am. She worked her tail off to do well in all of her endeavors and the recognition she received, she earned. Besides, that paragraph doesn’t come close to listing everything. THAT would be obnoxious.
However, my point here isn’t about her intelligence, at least not directly. You see, my daughter has decided she wants to be a teacher. I want to share with you some of the reactions she and I have gotten when telling others that this academically accomplished young woman has decided to make education her career. So here goes:
WHY? You have such a future if you want it.
WHY? I am going to make so much more money than you.
Well, that’s sad. Doesn’t she want more for herself?
It’s not like you don’t have options, why teach?
Well I told my kid if she wanted to teach she was on her own. No way am I helping her pay for college.
That’s a waste. Can’t you talk her out of it?
I’ve seen my beautiful, amazing daughter almost cringe when someone asks what her major is and it’s not because she is ashamed, she is tired of the negative, judgmental comments. I know because I am too.
Now don’t get me wrong, the state of education and the future for our teachers in Oklahoma is bleak. I am aware of that. We blame our law makers for cutting funding. We blame our administrators for not being able to hire “quality” teachers. And we blame our teachers for the fact that we are becoming less educated and farther behind other countries. I think it’s time we started taking some personal responsibility in the lack of respect for our educators. When was the last time you faced a room full of children knowing you were accountable for helping build their futures, spending your own money, time, and work realizing your pay is 49th in the nation, benefits, like health insurance, are costing you more than other state employees because you teach, that you are going to be judged by how your classroom is decorated? Now imagine this and add in the face of a beautiful child that is wearing the same clothes for the fourth day in a row, the bruises, the foster child that is back in your classroom after yet another home placement. Why on earth are our teachers not treated like solid gold? Do we not “get” that the future of our communities, state, country, are tied to the education of these kids?
Now, I’m going to be “that” mom again. You WANT educators like my daughter at the head of our classrooms. You want the overachievers and the ones who WANT to teach educating our future! Our future cardiologists, judges, law enforcement, etc. are sitting in classrooms NOW.
It’s time to stop blaming and start changing. I will start with me. If you teach, I want to say thank you. I’ve seen time and again a teacher take my children into their hearts and not only teach them math and science, but love them. You have a special place in my heart. If I ever treated you as though I did not respect the work you are doing, please accept my apology and hear me say I am working to help you change this perspective. As for my gifted, amazing, beautiful daughter, she wants to be a teacher. She is excited to continue her own education toward becoming a teacher dedicated to your kids and grandkids. She WANTS to do this and trust me, she WILL excel. It’s just who she is.
As the school year begins, please try and keep in mind the incredible responsibility placed on the shoulders of our educators. Try and change someone’s view. Show the respect that is warranted. And someday if your son or daughter is fortunate, they will sit in a classroom with my daughter as their teacher and knowing her, I promise you, she will be giving all her heart and using all of her gifts to help your child succeed. She is an achiever and I am proud to be “that” mom.
*If you find grammatical errors it is because she did not get to proof this before I published it.
* If you ask me about my daughter’s major and react negatively, do not be offended by the lecture you might receive. You have been warned.