Monday, August 20, 2007

Year 28

Today I start my twenty-eighth year of teaching, minus two years of leave. It's hard to believe. I taught nine years at McDonald Elementary in Seffner, Florida, then six years at Lincoln Sixth Grade Center in Plant City, and I have been at Tomlin Middle School since 1995.

Tomlin is a great place to work. We have hard-working administrators, and although I don't agree with every decision they make, I know that they truly care about our school. I respect the load they carry and the work they do, and I'm really glad I don't have to do it. My colleagues are the best people in the world to work with, especially the teachers on my team. They are dedicated to their profession and have a heart for teaching kids. And of course our students past and present make our vocation the most rewarding in the world. Don't believe what you hear on the news and through the rumor mill. Most of our children are truly angels in disguise.

Teaching is one of the great joys of my life. It is my gifting and calling. It is what I do and who I am. I love kids, and the best part of the school day is when I'm standing at the board or seated in my rocker in the the reading corner with my students gathered around. I want my students to become passionate readers of whatever genre they enjoy and lifelong learners and lovers of knowledge. I want them to learn about grace, and empathy, and diversity, and acceptance so they will become contributing citizens of the world.

Everything in public education is not wonderful. I don't love bureaucracy, No Child Left Behind legislation, added work days and hours, educational "reform," the ever-increasing paperwork, grouping and tracking students, and of course the FCAT and the multitude of tests and assessments that nebulous committees dream up for us to administer. But the negative issues in education are for another post. Today I remember why I do what I do, and that's what really matters.

I'm going to get up, shower, and get dressed. Then I'll grab my backpack and throw it in the car. And on the way to school I'll call Mama and Daddy for our traditional first day of school prayer. I'll enter my classroom feeling blessed to be a member of the greatest profession in the world, and I'll confidently await my new crop of angels.

How can one man be so blessed?