How many other professions require you to report to work 30 to 60 minutes early? And when we arrive at that hour, we find students waiting for us, so we open our doors.
How many other workers stay one to two hours after closing time for no extra pay? Yet we do that to plan for the next day even though those additional hours add nothing to our paychecks. And even then we come in on weekends when our business is closed.
How many workers see that their business is under-funded and reach into their own pockets to try to make up that difference? If we lack the basic necessities of running our classroom, we don’t go without; we go out and buy them with our own money.
And how many workers lay awake at night wondering and worrying about their customers? We teachers often are as concerned for our school children as we are for our own.
And lastly, how many workers when faced with mortal danger would sacrifice their lives to keep their customers safe? In addition to educating our students, we feed them, bandage them, listen to their struggles, comfort them emotionally, and if necessary, give our own life in exchange for theirs. I’m not complaining; I’m honored to serve with my fellow educators who have accepted this challenge.
In 2005 I was selected as California’s middle school educator of the year. I struggled with the award because I knew so many fellow educators who in my opinion were much more deserving. The director of the award committee suggested, “It’s not that we pick the best. We select someone who represents what is great about educators.”
When I heard that, I was honored to be seen as a representative of such a noble trade. Eight years later, I still feel that way. Every day I consider myself privileged to stand among such a great and selfless group of colleagues. As you begin this upcoming year, I want you to know I value the sacrifice and commitment you have made as an educator. Whether you are thanked or not, whether you are adequately paid or not, what you do is a great contribution to our society. The world is a better place because of our profession.