There are so many things that have been added to a teacher’s daily routine. Reports that are beyond comprehension. Programs that are constantly changing. Requirements that go way beyond the scope of teaching the alphabet and the numeric system. Methods seem to change each year and somehow, they are expected to adapt.
I was talking to a teacher and she told me stories about her experiences of being a teacher that made you want to cry. This teacher has kids of her own that keep her busy and talks about her other 28 as if they too were hers. She must love her job and her kids as this dominates most conversations we have.
Many of these kids have no home life to speak of. Some have parents who are either drug addicts, living with a relative, foster parent or may have drug addicts living in their home. They may steal these kid’s medicines and then send them to school for teachers to handle. Students with their ADD medicine, are in most cases attentive and the most likable students there are. It is like night and day. Without it they can’t sit still and have very little attention spans. The kids in most cases say that someone either stole their medication or some other excuse as to why they didn’t get it this month.
Statements from teachers need to be filled out on each student, if the parent feels there is a need for medication. Now teachers are expected to diagnose and have become physician assistants per se. They also must play private detective, because in some case’s the child has no problem and it might be a parent or guardian that wants this medication instead.
Another sad story I heard was about a child who wanted to play sports. Teachers handed out signup sheets and the fee was $50. He had $25 dollars saved up, but he was determined to get the rest. “I really want to play soccer.” Stories like this break your heart. Many teachers I know seek ways to help these kids out. Either referring to someone else who has access to programs to help or give them the money they need themselves. If all else fails, you find a parent or grandparent who likely will pay it.
Many people say teachers are fancy babysitters and don’t deserve a pay raise. They are molding young minds to be leaders for tomorrow. They are the ones in the trenches that can change someone’s life and turn them around from their obvious ending. Many students come from broke or broken homes. Parents who are drug addicts or live off the system and no longer care. Many teachers buy them clothes, coats and/or shoes. Some teachers might even worry about getting that kid to a sporting event, if he does raise that money, even when they struggle to get their own kids there.
It’s not all about teaching anymore. It is adapting to special needs of each student. The ability to bring together all the kids in the classroom that is so diverse sometimes that it seems near impossible. They pray by the end of the year that after overcoming so many obstacles they reach their goal of moving them on to the next level.
What is a teacher worth? You tell me. What is tomorrow worth? Most of the kids have no chance for a tomorrow without someone behind them. In most cases it’s that teacher who we are bickering over pay raises. Our elected officials are constantly looking for ways to invest in West Virginia. Most of the legislation they propose involve bringing outsiders to our state for our resources or giving them tax breaks. We already have the best investment they can make, a resource that is renewable unlike the others. Our teachers the mold makers.
My advice is to watch the legislature and what they do. If they follow though and give corporations the huge tax break of $140 million dollars and don’t address your needs. Don’t walk out, run out and don’t come back till they do.
Think back in your life and I bet most everyone has a teacher somewhere in their life that made a difference. I know I do. Give them the raise they deserve and let’s just call it paying it forward!
J. David Morgan lives in Point Pleasant and is a graduate of Wahama High School and the WVU School of Pharmacy. He is a lifelong resident of Mason County and former member of the Mason County Board of Education.