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  • Approved for CNN

  • Click to view longswoosh's profile
    Posted September 11, 2012 by
    longswoosh
    Location
    Victorville, California
    Assignment
    Assignment
    This iReport is part of an assignment:
    Teachers: Why do you teach?

    My Life's Work: An Educator's Perspective

     

    CNN PRODUCER NOTE     longswoosh and her husband are both fourth grade teachers at a California public school – and they have second jobs as adjunct professors at night. She, her husband and their four adopted children have a modest house and keep to a strict budget. While longswoosh has has been a teacher for 13 years, she feels underappreciated at times and like her profession isn’t respected. 'More often than not, teachers are trying to meet their students’ needs … and then being blamed for the students not meeting whatever educational standards the state of California has set up. We’re kind of like punching bags. I’m tired of being a punching bag, but I still do it,' she said.
    - zdan, CNN iReport producer

    Twenty years of schooling later -- I am an educator. My paycheck does not reflect my expertise. The minimal esteem shown is not warranted, considering my formal schooling and experience. A redundant practice of mundane paperwork and professional development hours usurp my greater work. But I teach, because that is who I am.

    In second grade I decided to become a teacher. Oh sure, my life goal changed throughout the seasons: an aspiring police officer, environmentalist, doctor. But no matter where I turned, I kept coming back to the idea of teaching, inspired by the teachers that touched my life. There just had to be more people like them in the profession – and I was determined to be one of them.

    I had a knack for teaching, and conveyed information with natural ease. When fellow classmates struggled with a concept, I was anxious to jump in and help explain. There was a deep satisfaction for me as I saw them acquire knowledge. I was helping them towards greater understanding, and being a part of that process was quite fulfilling.

    Every time I entertained the idea of pursuing another profession, my life was touched by another teacher. Ms. Barnett became a mentor, a safe harbor in the midst of personal storms. Mr. Flurry recognized my gifts and strove to meet my academic needs. While living in poverty, Mr. Dale encouraged me to dream beyond my circumstance. Mrs. Cook heard my voice and helped me to speak aloud.

    Each of them became a part of who I am today. Their influence inspired me towards my utmost. To have opportunity to invest and pour my life’s work into budding politicians, business men and women, civil servants – I could think of no greater calling.

    Every morning I face my students, I get to challenge them to think in new ways: Consider world, national, and local events; figure out where they fit in the scheme of things. Analyze thought processes, personal outlook, and individual strengths. Help them discover their purpose in life, equip, and encourage them towards fulfilling it.

    At the end of the day I can lay my head down, exhausted but content. I may not live in the biggest house, have the clout and respect of prestigious position, but I have achieved immortality. I live on. A piece of my heart rests in the aspiring, the accomplished, the future of humankind. As ideas take their first breath, and original thought evolves, I will be there: encouraging, challenging, empowering tomorrow.
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