Thursday, October 24, 2013

Why I Teach

I'm deviating from my usual banter about running, weight loss, and parenting to recognize those lost this past week....
"In the line of duty"....this is a phrase used for some professions like police officers when they are killed while on the job.  I never envisioned it to be used for a teacher yet this week we have lost two teachers in the line of duty.  Teachers who strove each and every day to not only educate their students but to make them better people.  Teachers that were amazing people in and out of school who had dedicated their lives to helping children be the best version of themselves.  Teachers like me.  Watching the scenes from yesterday's murder in Danvers made me shudder...having a place you know so well broadcast on Nightly News hits home way too quickly.  The North Shore was my home...where I began my life as a teacher...molded my craft by attending countless hours of post graduate classes...and taught for 10 years.  Never in those 10 years did I ever once feel like this job that I loved would ever be a threat to my life.  It was a job I had wanted all my life...

My husband teases me when we talk about people finding jobs by saying, "Not everyone knew what they wanted to do when they were born!"but it's so true!  I can remember getting my Highlights Magazine in the mail and teaching my dolls and stuffed animals how to read!  When it came time for me to go to college I was focused from day one....I wanted to be a teacher.  I had a passion for students and a drive to teach.  As time went by my focus narrowed onto just who those students were going to be...guiding me to ESL.  I wanted the hard kids...the ones that other teachers didn't know what to do with. 

My first application for employment was to a job in the which my mother asked me not to pursue!  I landed in Lynn (Yes...Lynn Lynn city know the rest!) and would spend the next 10 years doing amazing things!  Just talking about my work there makes me light up!  I was a third grade ESL teacher...meaning my students were brand new immigrants to the US (many of which were refugees) and I taught them English and 3rd grade.  I was their teacher...their cultural guide...their translator...their confidant...their toughest boss...and their biggest fan!  I organized events pairing families and refugee families ensuring that everyone had all the winter essentials they never knew they needed.  I pushed students farther than they thought they could go and then celebrated each victory along the way.  I've kept students away from the gangs that were so willing to take them in.  I showed them places they may never have had a chance to see like the symphony or opera house.  I taught them that hard work will always win...I have and always will teach them to never give up on themselves! 

I teach because...
  • I can't imagine myself doing anything else
  • the sound of a child reading for the very first time is priceless
  • I believe in each and every one of them
  • I have been called to do just that
  • the magical things that can happen inside a classroom can transform the world!
My thoughts and prayers are with the families of Mike Landsberry and Colleen Ritzer and with all my fellow teachers out there.  Schools are a safe haven...and magical things do still happen there.


  1. It takes a very special person to teach. My mom is a retired teacher of many many years. Finding your passion in life makes it all worth while :)

  2. It's a scary world out there! Beautiful post!

  3. I love this. I'm a teacher, currently staying home to raise my Little Ladies because I knew I couldn't give my all to my class and my kids at home. I'd rather not teach than do a half-assed job.
    My first year teaching (10 years ago), I had 28 first graders, 14 of whom were immigrants and didn't speak a word of English. I remember the day that little Danitza raised her hand to answer a question for the very first time. I don't remember what the question was, but her answer was "cow". It was correct, and my heart swelled just hearing her voice.
    This post brought back some great memories. Thank you for that.

  4. Thank you for posting this. My heart breaks for these teachers families and their students. As a middle & high school teacher, I had some students who got attached because they needed a younger role model in their life, and I was always happy to help those girls find their way through difficult situations (boys, friendships, gossip). To not only lose a family member, a community lost such a wonderful amazing teacher. Sometimes I wonder if I will go back to teaching,I LOVE teaching, but moments like this make me wonder if I could dedicate my all again...

    Also, I didn't realize you taught ESL in Lynn, you are an amazing woman!

  5. so inspiring to read, you are an inspiration Nancy! So sad about this teacher and all those who have given their lives in the line of duty.

  6. This is a beautiful post. I am also a teacher and you expressed many of the feelings I have on a daily basis. What we do on a daily basis, and the many hats we wear, still continues to blow my mind after 12 years!