Recently I posted about being a teacher and my love for my students. That got me to remembering why I became a teacher.
Back in high school in a freshman life-skills class, we were assigned to write a paper on our future profession. This was a farming community, you must understand. At that time period, boys would go into farming or business with their fathers. Girls would marry them. Some of us ‘misfits’ would head off to college, the military, or to a job somewhere else. This is not a criticism of my home area; it is just the way things worked then.
I wrote long and rapturously about becoming a doctor, specifically a psychiatrist. The idea of healing and helping people was strong within me, and I wanted to do that. The paper got an A, and I took it home. My parents read it. My mother nodded. My father said, “No, Sis, you’re gonna be a teacher.”
That was it: a teacher. Later I thought about his answer, and speculated why he was so adamant. First, I thought he didn’t want me exposed to the horrors that doctors must see and try to solve. Then, I guessed that maybe he didn’t want me to see naked men, or something silly. Finally, I decided that I would get the four-year education required for teaching, and then move on to pre-med school on my own.
Many years later when my children were in school, I needed to support the family while my husband obtained his own teaching credential. I had options, and tested very well for many government-type jobs. I had a temporary credential while I took two classes to satisfy California requirements.
I was faced with either teaching or working in an office. At that point, I was talking with my beloved father-in-law whom I called ‘Dad’ for twenty-five years. He heard my confusion, listened to my reasoning. His answer was, “Teach. It is one of the few professions where who you are will make a difference in someone’s life. What you do can change history.”
Both fathers saw something in me that I didn’t see at the time: I was a teacher, a teacher to my very bones.