If the people who want to see positive change in our communities and our state leave, that change will never happen.
That’s why I’ve been teaching for five years, and I can’t imagine leaving those who need me most — my students. Unfortunately, many of our best educators can’t afford to stay. In fact, I’ve seen a lot of my friends move to Texas because they know they can make $10,000 or even $20,000 more.
As a freshman English and creative writing teacher, I have the unique privilege of witnessing my students find empowerment through writing. There are so many things to love about teaching, such as watching the light bulbs switch on and seeing kids get excited about learning.
A couple of years ago, a particularly shy student of mine found her voice in spoken word poetry. She is now Oklahoma’s only Youth Poet Laureate, doing reading tours and giving poetry workshops. She’s only just graduated, and she already has a book deal!
These are the moments I live for, but large class sizes and lack of resources make teaching a subject as intimate as writing to a packed room of teenagers a serious challenge. I’ve had to raise money online for books to use in my classroom, and for my birthday each year I request classroom supplies instead of gifts.
What really breaks my heart is that I’ve had plenty of students I know would make brilliant educators tell me they would love to do what I do — but they don’t want my salary.
Freshman English Teacher
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