Recently while shopping I ran into an old friend that grew up in the same neighborhood as me. We were both quite surprised to run into one another and immediately the usual questions started flying. You know; are you married? Do you have kids? Where are you living now? What do you do? When we got to the what do you do part she shared that she had been an elementary school teacher for several years before she had kids. I was like you have to be kidding me because I was a schoolteacher as well. After laughing a bit about the coincidence of it all we started sharing about the reasons we became teachers in the first place. Well it turns out that we were both inspired by the teachers we had growing up.
There was our 4th grade teacher Mrs. Schumacher who always had a smile on her face no matter how gloomy it was outside. She taught me great lessons of kindness through her very own acts of generosity and kind words. I remember this time when ants kept getting into my lunch box everyday somehow and she would give me lunch money so I didn’t go hungry. She also stood up for me when the other kids were calling me ant boy. Kids could be cruel but Mrs. S was right there to show them that it wasn’t nice to pick on people.
Then in 7th grade there was Mr. Dessi the social studies teacher. He saw that I really had a knack for history and world events. He pushed me and gave me courage to enter into a history day fair. Before then I had never even thought I was good enough to enter any kind of contest. But Mr. Dessi believed in me and that was so important to me at that age. After doing placing in the history fair he then recommended me for honors social studies in high school. Hearing that made me glow with pride and made my parents as proud as can be. He also was responsible for me joining the track team. Something I wouldn’t have done in a million years on my own. Teachers like Mr. D were one of a kind.
When I got to high school I struggled with 10th grade math. I remember it was geometry and trigonometry and we had to remember all of these formulas and proofs. It was really difficult for me. My first math teacher wasn’t very good and he had all but given up on me. At the risk of failing the class my parents got the school to switch me into another teachers class. His name was Mr. Despigno. Talk about patience. This man had the most patience in a person that I have ever seen. He took his time after school to sit with me and a handful of other students for hours. Helping us with our questions and the difficulties we were having with math. I even remember how gentle he was in the classroom. If he sensed someone was having difficulties he would quietly pair them up with someone who wasn’t. That way one student could help the other. In the end both students ended up learning the subject matter even more. He was a great influence on me and I still use some of his practices in the classroom today.
When I think about my past teachers I can’t help but wonder how did they do it. Teaching is such a difficult job as I can attest to myself. I remember my college counselor saying that teaching is a very thankless job. Although I have to disagree with her on that I must say that financially it is very difficult. We don’t get paid that much for the amount of work that we put in every day. And we do not get much financial support in the classroom to help us with lessons, decorations, supplies, paper and more.
I recently read a report that said the average teachers spends $1000 per year of their own money the classroom. It went on to say that 92% of teachers spend their own money on classroom supplies. $1.3 billion: Total out-of-pocket amount spent nationally by teachers on classroom supplies each year
It is pretty clear that teachers need all the help they can get in the classrooms. And there is a way that people can help. They can support us through AdoptAClassroom.org and by registering and donating through this link. The Real Change Project in partnership with Office Depot is a proud sponsor of this program. I encourage everyone to go to this website and register and please donate. Teachers can also register their classes on this site as well. This is a great way to give back to your community and to help out our most important asset the children.
I was selected for this opportunity as a member of Clever Girls Collective and the content and opinions expressed here are all my own.