Year 12 of teaching and time for an update on some facts: (from the original blog post Why do I teach?)
I have taught close to 1300 students in the past 11 years. I have had 3 students die - JW, JR and MC - three male students (two from cancer, one in car accident) and think of each of them often. These three young men remind me just how short life really is..A student recently released from state prison for a gang shoot out - came to see me to apologize for letting me down. I have had 2 students live in half-way houses because their own families kicked them out and they had no where else to go. One of those students was accepted to Stockton, with a scholarship and interrupted my class to share his acceptance letter with me. I have had 1 student, that I know of, who not only went to school, but worked to pay the rent for the apartment he and his family lived in. I have had many who have lost parents - some both parents. I have students who go on to play collegiate sports, and one who is now playing in the Majors. I have students who take on leadership roles at the college level - running SGA, Orientation groups, etc. I have students who after ten years still come up to me and say, "Hello, Miss C." I have several students who when are home make plans to meet up with me. I still have a student who works for the FBI, one on Obama's campaign, several in the financial world of NYC and probably too many to count who work at McDonald's. I have been lucky enough to work with amazing student leaders who year after year leave lasting impressions on me. On most days I have not just been their teacher - but their cheerleader, mentor, advisor, counselor, possibly even parent. I have cried many tears with my students but thankfully laughed more!
Why do I teach?!?!? You must be kidding me - why wouldn't I? I have been privileged to walk into many of my students life and although I may not know the impact I have made on their life...I know for certain that they have made an impact on mine. I love what I do and no amount of negativity will change that because as my favorite slam poet/teacher Taylor Mali says: "I make a god damn difference, what about you?"