I graduated from a fantastic school in northwestern Pennsylvania called Edinboro University of Pennsylvania. GO FIGHTING SCOUTS! I remember sitting in my dorm room and choosing to move to North Carolina (with no family here) because it was a leading state in education. There was opportunity for growth, the pay was a great livable wage, teacher retention and support was available, and the great weather! Why would I pack myself up and move anywhere else?
Fast forward almost twenty years later. I have accomplished a lot. I got my Master’s, became Nationally Board certified, served as a mentor to new teachers, been grade level chair a few times, and even elected as teacher of the year. I’ve taught from 4th grade to 8th grade in regular and special education classrooms. I love the classroom. It’s more home to me than my house on some days. I have no intentions on ever leaving the classroom but I still want to be an advocate and help get North Carolina to the top spot nationally in education. I’ve found a way to do just that.
There are various paths that educators can take throughout their career to become a leader. We all see the need because at some point you want to reach beyond your classroom. Options are administration or even transfer to another position in the school, for example become a testing coordinator or instructional facilitator. Some educators, like myself, hate the thought of leaving the classroom. I am not interested in leaving the smiles and hugs, the lightbulb moments, having lunch in my class as a special treat, or even the late parent conferences.
There are still ways for me to reach those who are making laws and decisions that do affect the classroom. I was recently appointed by Governor Roy Cooper to serve on his Teacher Advisory Committee. Governor Cooper’s Committee consists of educators from all around the state who will advise him on topics that are very important to educators, students, and all stakeholders of education in our state.
We all know that the condition of education in North Carolina is not where it use to be. Schools have been stripped of every viable resource necessary to create learners and lovers of learning. There are no textbooks, no teacher assistants, no updated technology, etc. Teachers are asked to do more with less. What sense would that make? Would you have a doctor perform surgery without adequate tools or training? Would you expect a chef to cook a four course meal with no utensils? No. So why are teachers being asked to do their job with inadequate resources. The only word that I can best describe it as is an assault. Oh, there’s more
I’m nowhere near done. Teacher pay has declined. We don’t want a raise. We want to be able to pay our bills and send our own kids off to college. Teacher preparation programs and incentives for Master pay have been cut drastically or completely dismantled. Increased high-stakes standardized tests, increasing healthcare costs, no due process, increased class sizes (remember no teacher assistants), and the S word – Standard 6 (an evaluation process for teachers). I could go on but I think you get the gist.
Working with Governor Cooper on his education committee is going to allow me the chance to speak up about those issues without leaving my students. I still get to work on math word problems with them, go on archeology digs, and attend the North Carolina Symphony with my students.
This is my opportunity to discuss all of the backhanded, cut throat, and selfish strategies to drain the life and money out of education. I get to have a conversation with other educators who are in the trenches fighting as well. I get to hear what they are experiencing in their own neck of the woods. What’s working? What’s not working? We will have conversations and help plan strategic moves with those we’ve elected to bring this great state back to it’s status as number one in the country. That won’t take 20 years…I hope.