As a retired teacher of 40-years, I spent decades in the classroom. I loved being a teacher and educating was my life’s calling.
I was an elementary school teacher at Jimtown Elementary school for the majority of my career, part of Baugo Community Schools near Elkhart, IN. Jimtown is a very small school, and since we have low tax rates, teachers never made a lot of money. I wasn’t a teacher to make the big bucks and anyone who stayed at the small school was there for the reasons I was; they loved teaching, loved these kids, their families and our community.
Teachers who love what they do are paid in smiles from their students, the goodness they feel after teaching the same thing six different ways and on the sixth time…that one struggling student got it. They are paid when they watch their students learn, grow and succeed. But for some teachers, that means taking a second job after school, tutoring for additional income or eventually being forced out of the profession.
As much as we want it to, pride in our students, their smiles and bettering their lives, doesn’t pay the bills. Beyond a pay increase, teachers also need to be trained and prepared for their careers and they need growth opportunities. Too many teachers are leaving the profession and not enough of our youth are choosing to become teachers.
When the school day ends for a teacher, their actual workdays are still just beginning. Teachers stay late, talk to parents, grade papers, prepare lessons, train other teachers, and after all that…they still go home and worry. As a teacher, I worried for students I knew had tough home lives, for students struggling to keep caught up with the materials, and worried for new teachers who didn’t have intensive training options and felt underprepared for their classrooms.
As a mother, after my long-day was done, I also had four children of my own to raise. While I fully believe being a mother made me a better teacher and being a teacher made me a better mother, I was still juggling a lot for less than what I was worth. You are not a teacher for forty years because of the pay, you teach for forty years because you love it. And even with all that love, I hope teachers see a pay raise very soon or I fear for the profession as a whole.
Stand with me and email Indiana State leaders to make your voice count. Teachers will thank you for believing we deserve more pay, residency options and career ladders.