I’m always incredibly amazed at the impact that teachers, tutors and mentors can have on youth and adults that come out of difficult circumstances! The difference that one adult who is persistent and caring can make is beyond measure! Yet, being one who has been around academic circles continue to be amazed at how the teaching profession too often is looked down upon and the usual joke is if you can’t do then teach. Why is it the case that celebs with next to little to offer to society are rewarded both monetarily and socially whereas teachers are usually left at the bottom?
I have witnessed firsthand the impact of many who have taught or tutored for decades change the life outcome of so many. Yet, sadly they won’t win any MVP award at the end of the school year. I had the privilege when I first moved to Phoenix to be involved with a local nonprofit whose passion was working with at risk youth. The founder was a local dad whose passion was to see his kids not be drawn into the gang presence in Chandler or the East Valley. I’m so thankful for ICAN (Improving Chandler Area Neighborhood) which has touched the lives of 1,000’s and taught those in the community that one person can impact a community!
The passing of Henry Salinas, ICAN founder, won’t make national headlines whereas the suicide of a 21-year-old rapper probably has already. Don’t get me wrong, Mr. Salinas, would have had an impact on Little Peep where his choice to keep trying at life could have helped him keep rapping. I will be the first to admit that I didn’t necessarily resonate with his music but get that he represents a generation of youth that face despair daily and the choice to live or quit.
I’m so fortunate to have many friends I have known for decades that continue to teach and impact students without any desire to be in the lime light or receive awards. One of my favorites teaches is at a private school, where she continues to purposely be involved in an under resourced neighborhood and should be the one to get a grant and a big thank you. She has brought youth to a tough neighborhood where her teens have painted houses of low income families, provided a baby shower a teen moms and now in an ongoing fashion helps a single mom home with hundreds of diapers every year.
I have had the privilege over the years with being involved with college students who are pursuing teaching as their professional goal. It has been so exciting to see these young men and women impact the lives of at risk youth. It’s their excitement about life and willingness to jump into the mess we call life that inspires me to keep going and not quit. Yet, as we jokingly discussed last week after a large group meeting with kids and teens that it would be difficult to raise a family strictly on the salary of a beginning teacher in greater Phoenix.
So why is it the case that athletes, music icons and actor/actresses get the limelight and monetary reward? Why is it the case that the union minimum for a NFL player is $200K and a teacher is fortunate to make $35K? I do understand that the amount of commitment, training and ongoing pursuit of excellence in athletics is admirable. Yet, is it really worth that much more than a person who will daily chooses to face a classroom of kids that are attention starved, struggle with listening and sitting still and the farthest thing from their mind is reading?
Why is it the case that in other countries teachers are viewed as the super stars that are rewarded for their commitment to excellence in the life of a kid or teen that would typically become a statistic? I have another young friend who realized after graduation that her pursuit of a health care job wasn’t right for her but instead pursued teaching Biology to High School students. I know that each day of her first year will be a struggle to discover the methodology that will impact these teens to inspire them to choose learning instead of social media as their primary focus in life.
I have another friend who has been an inspiration to me as she has purposely brought her daughter to tutor kids from single parent homes. The ongoing impact this mom and daughter team will have is huge. I know that their heart’s desire isn’t for attention but to help a ten-year-old learn how to read instead of hiding and being embarrassed!