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Sheryl Green: Rekindling the prestige of teaching

Sheryl Green
Sheryl Green

We all go through ups and downs in retrospection. We ponder our past choices and weigh the options before us. We wonder if there really is something greener on the other side.

It seems in recent years, teachers are flocking away from the educational world in search of that greener grass, because, well, teaching is hard.

Let me rephrase: The actual art of teaching -- preparing and delivering information -- is rewarding and enjoyable. Everything else is the difficult part.

My colleagues and I eat lunch together in my classroom, and our 30 minutes together are the highlight of our day sometimes. Over our yogurt and PB&Js, we check the lotto numbers each week, dreaming of RVs, early retirement and paying off student loans. We contemplate ways to save this generation. Or we watch humorous clips from the Jimmy Fallon show, grabbing a laugh before the bell rings and our day continues.

Lunchtime is a great time.

Last week we were perplexed, however. We weighed the condition of the American educational system, and wondered how the teaching profession has lost its attractive luster. Leftovers in hand, we were pondering our career choice when someone in the group offered this disturbing, but familiar adage: "Those who can, do; those who can't, teach."

I must admit, I got a little offended. We all did.

The attraction of the teaching profession once was the power of influence and motivation teachers had over generations. The summers off are fantastic, don't get me wrong, but the majority of teachers chose the profession for meaningful influence in molding the minds and hearts of children. It was a choice of desire to be part of the solution, not a last option due to lacking ability.

Along these same lines, yesterday a colleague entered my classroom and shut the door behind her.

Through tears she shared her distress. Her tank was empty. She felt tapped out, squeezed of all she had to give this profession.

And this from a quality, seasoned teacher.

The sad truth is, many of our teachers' accounts are depleted, and teachers are wondering where and how they can be filled up again.

But for every depleted colleague, there is another to inspire us. A teacher friend of mine is a good example. She just went through a period of retrospection, contemplating a decision to remain in the teaching profession or search for the green elsewhere.

A powerful, capable, effective teacher at one of our local schools, she was a leader, an influence and a giver, but the woes of teaching began to drag her down, and she felt overdrawn.

When a teacher chooses this profession, there is a level of commitment unparalleled. For my friend, a choice had to be made, and it was a difficult choice, in

volving not her ability but her passion. Her heart is in teaching, but her tank was empty.

A decision had to be made: leave the profession or seek a change in the hopes of maintaining her commitment to what she adores and what she is good at -- teaching.

She chose to stay in the profession.

Her solution involved a change in scenery, a change of school. To her, remaining committed to her passion was more important that walking in greener grass. Now, her students are benefitting.

One more win for the teaching profession.

These two teachers highlight what this column is all about.

It's my mission. It may be small, but it's a mission nonetheless.

A mission to rekindle the prestige of the teaching profession.

To shatter the misconceptions that becoming a teacher is a less-than option for keen minds, creative people and talented motivators.

To share examples of how teachers are still making a difference, are still choosing the profession regardless of the difficulty.

To fill the tanks of my teammates and replace the ugly adage with a new one. One that sounds something more like the words of the historian Henry Adams: "A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops."

One article at a time.

One dedicated teacher, affecting eternity, at a time.

Sheryl Green is an independent contractor. Contact her at