This I Believe

Joan - Franklin, North Carolina
Entered on February 12, 2007
Age Group: 50 - 65

I believe I have the most important job in the world. I am a teacher–I am a teacher!! For thirty years I have taught in a small high school in Western North Carolina. My official title is Science teacher–but I am a teacher of students.

This belief has evolved over the years. I have always believed teachers are born, not made, and I think I was born to teach. Every semester I stand in front of thirty young adults on the first day and I am all powerful. Their minds are mine; and the words I say and my attitude toward each individual student will change them forever. They will remember their time with me for the rest of their lives.

Last summer I worked for ten weeks at a large retail store. As I stood at the register, I saw hundreds of students that I had taught. They came through and wanted to stop and talk about their jobs and their kids and find out how I was. Most of their faces I could not remember. But they remembered mine and many asked me when I was going to retire, because they wanted me to teach their kids. They wanted me to know I had made a difference.

I could tell hundreds of stories about students. Some make me feel real good when I think about the research biologist, or the lawyer or the teacher. Some do not when I think about the dropouts or those in prison or those who chose to end their lives. I ask myself what difference did I make for them. But the ones that confirm the importance of being a teacher are Nicky- who read on a first grade level but told me I made her feel like she could do anything; or Robbie who was so smart, but had to keep heart medication in my desk and aske me to help him get through MacBeth. Then there is Shawn, who appeared at my door one day after ten years so he could tell me he was going back to school, and he just wanted me to know he appreciated my being touch on him.

In thirty years, I have seen many changes in education as knowledge, governments and families have evolved. But my opportunity to shape ideas, attitudes and futures has not.

Recently, I was one of twelve teachers given the opportunity to work on an educational sstratedy for a young girl who suffered a serious medical condition that left her 90% blind along with other physical and emotional conditions. As I sat in a meeting looking at this beautiful child and helping to decide how we could prepare her for a future, the idea for this essay just spilled out of me. I thank my Gopd for this profession I chose because I believe I have the most important job in the world; this I believe.