Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Why teaching?

Pin It “Mr. Z?”

I turned to my student who stood before me. “What’s up?” I asked, putting aside the papers I’d been correcting.

“Did you always want to be a teacher?”

I sat back in my chair. “Why do you want to know this?”

He shrugged. “I don’t know. I’ve just always wondered.”

I took a deep breath. Now, just how to answer this? Should I be honest? It would probably be much more fun to tell him that I’d considered becoming a mortician or perhaps a professional food taster.

I went with honesty.

“No, I could get another job if I had wanted to. In fact, wanted to be an author…or maybe a movie director.”

“Really? Can teachers do that?”

“Yep, it’s perfectly legal.”

My student walked away, shaking his head saying something like, “Whoa…I didn’t know that.”

It was this small conversation which brings me to today’s blog…just why did I choose teaching out of all of the professions I could have for my life? I’ve thought about that question quite a bit over the years to tell you the truth. I believe it stems back about forty or fifty years ago when I was a missionary. I had been sent to Missouri with the idea that I would return to Washington after two years and become a successful author, touring around the United States to promote my new books and to do signings. Of course, there’d be the world premieres of movies my books had been adapted into…in fact, I had already completed over half of a screenplay for “Take the Long Way Home.”

Yes, I was going to be famous.

While living in Poplar Bluff (Pop-lar bluff…not Pop-U-lar Bluff) one of my companions and I started volunteering at Sacred Heart Catholic School. My companion and I helped out in many different classrooms from 1-6th grades, however, it was here that I became acquainted with Ruth Trotter, first grade teacher extraordinaire.

I wish there were words to express how I felt in the presence of this woman. She was nothing short of amazing. I looked forward to working each week with the kids at SH, but none more than the 1st graders of Mrs. Trotter’s classroom. On every visit I’d be tutoring kids on Math facts, fluency, or reading aloud to them. It was a high point of each week for me, and the more time I spent in Mrs. Trotter’s presence, the more I began to realize that I loved teaching.

When I was moved to another area (after 9 months) I couldn’t foget the experiences I’d had in working with students and how much fun it was. When I came home another 9 months later, I enrolled in college to finish my general education classes. When thinking of career paths which I might follow, only one stood out.


People have often asked me why I decided to become a teacher. I’d often joke that it was for the big money to be made, and all of the single female teachers. It really isn’t though. It’s for the students I get to see grow on a daily basis. Some of these kids take a little bit longer than others, but I see nearly all of them grow and change. They come into my classroom as little kids, and leave as middle-schoolers.

I will forever be thankful to the teachers I’ve had in my life which made a positive impact on me.…Otamay Hushing, Robin Flickinger, Sherri Frizzell, Ed Mooney, and most importantly, Ruth Trotter. As I look back on old photos of my first days as a teacher, I think of these kids who are now much older than they were as 3rd or 4th graders. I think of these students, who one day, when somebody asks them, “Who was your favorite teacher?” Will respond…

“Mr. Z.”

Thanks, Mrs. Trotter.

My friends, Jan and Hazen.

One of my "first" teaching experiences.

Father Mike McDivitt, Hazen, & I.

Sacred Heart Catholic School.


Gerb said...

I finally had time to catch up on all your recent posts! I love that your blog is uplifting. I can think of a few kids (and a couple of parents) who are also glad you chose to be a teacher. And by the way, your someday is now...I know many kids who profess you as their favorite teacher. Keep doing the great things you do!

Farscaper said...

Sacred Heart. (Ever watch Scrubs?)

I'm glad to read this post. I don't know why but I was wondering this very thing yesterday. We've never met but, yes, I was wondering why YOU decided to be a teacher. Go figure.

I often times wonder why people become who they are (job wise). Sometimes it's just out of convenience... other times it's out of passion. I've had some passionate teachers in my life... they will ALWAYS stand out in my mind. They are the ones who moved mountains for me... opened windows I didn't know were there... gave me a new perspective that I have carried through my entire life.

One of my former roommates from Colorado had a bumper sticker on her old VW bug. Her dad use to drive that car to work. The bumper sticker read: "I touch the future, I teach". That is exactly what you do every day. Thank You!

Julie said...

You are an amazing teacher, and have a great talent. I also know that you are the favorite teacher of many, and have made a difference in so many lives.

Anonymous said...

You were Trevor's favorite teacher a few years ago. Shantel really wanted to have you for her teacher because of all the Trev-Talk about Mr. Z!
One of the First things she said to me when I told her we were moving was,"Now I won't get to have Mr. Z for my sixth grade teacher!" We tell her we're moving and that is what she says...?
Why couldn't you have transfered to Lehi?
You are a favorite teacher to many, and many more to come.
You really are spectacular!

Anonymous said...

Did I say,"You WERE Trevor's favorite teacher a few years ago?"
I meant to say,"You are his favorite teacher. Always have been since he was in your sixth grade class!"
Good thing I corrected myself!

Kris said...

As I have said before, YOU ARE AWESOME! I think you are a teacher of many things. Not just a school teacher. You will be thought of now and always.

Teachinfourth said...

Gerb - Glad to see that you are back in the land of blogness. Missed you there for awhile!

Farscaper - No, I don't. Isn't it odd that there are stories about people and we just don't know about them yet? BTW, one day I'll finally figure out who you really are...until then, lurk away.

Jewels - I know of somebody else who is a pretty good teacher too...

K.J. - I am glad that I got two of yours over the years. If I would have had the third it would have been like the original "Star Wars" trilogy or something like that...

Kris - Thanks. I guess we all just need to find something we like to do and then try to do it as well as we can, right?

annette said...

I don't know if you'll see this, since it's been a while, but I so know how you feel. It's the same for me. I love teaching. To be an integrel part in a child's life is a joy. And then to teach them something new or give them a new perspective and just be a part of the excitment of it all. Yeah, it's cool.

Teachinfourth said...

Nettle - I saw it. As I walked into Amelia Earhart today I felt this urge to be more though...I can't explain it properly and therefore won't even try.

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