When I was in college, I got a job at a mass mailing company to put a little spending money in my pocket. Do you remember buying wrapping paper from the neighborhood school kids? Remember standing on your porch, flipping through the brochure to find the samples in the back? I’m the one who stuffed those sample wrapping paper swatches into those brochures. I also stuffed envelopes, lots and lots of envelopes, all day, eight hours a day, day after day. It was a really boring job.
I also sold Hawaiian ice from a tiny metal shed in the Walmart parking lot, cleaned and changed beds in the recovery room of a hospital, refereed recreational soccer and washed golf balls at a driving range. I wanted to be a lawyer, a veterinarian or a National Geographic photographer, but obviously none of those dream jobs panned out.
We all spend our younger years contemplating the future and making plans for our lives. Most often, though, those plans change. Thank goodness, right?
During those times in my life when I had absolutely no clue what I wanted to be when I grew up, I was clear about one thing. I knew I didn’t want to be an envelope stuffer or a golf ball scrubber. Those career paths were easy to scratch off the possibility list. I just wanted more – more than paper cuts and sticky fingers. I wanted responsibility and challenge, excitement and purpose.
First grade teacher Ann Sanders, of Blanchard Elementary School, understands the thirst for more. She, too, had different aspirations than becoming a teacher. She started her college career thinking she wanted to be a radiologist, but a job as a nanny turned her heart toward children, and it’s been there ever since.
If you have children of your own, you know first graders are a hoot. They are pint sized bundles of energy who say the darndest things and do the funniest of things. The excitement of their unpredictability is precisely why Mrs. Sanders chose the first grade, and she has been a first grade teacher ever since, for nearly 20 years.
No doubt about it, too though, teaching some of the youngest of our prized treasures is also a task full of responsibility, challenge, and purpose. And wonderful teachers like Mrs. Sanders look at teaching as a career full of opportunities to make a difference. So, they choose to give up the hefty paycheck for 30 kids who desperately need them. Thank goodness, right?
Mrs. Sanders would tell you that there is no better job in the world. Right up there with the professions our society esteems as impactful, there is teaching. And for almost 20 years Mrs. Sanders has welcomed a new crew of post-toddler tiny tots of impressionable, unwritten destinies. They are future lawyers, veterinarians, photographers, or perhaps golf ball washers or frozen ice sellers. But whoever they are or whatever they become, they will forever be altered and effected by Mrs. Sanders’ infectious positive attitude and life speak. That’s the impact this challenging, purpose-filled, exciting responsibility offers a teacher.
And for a teacher, every day is the unexpected. Each moment is on-the-edge-of-your-seat excitement that includes a plethora of emotions and actions that leave teachers always on their toes. That’s an additional draw of teaching. I can honestly say that not one moment in my teaching career resembles stuffing an envelope. Thank goodness for me, right?
Everything Mrs. Sanders and I ever wanted in a career – responsibility, challenge, excitement, and purpose – are held within the eyes of our students. Nothing compares to that joy and fulfillment. It’s why we can’t wait to get to work every morning, and we leave exhausted every afternoon.
Life’s too short to spend the day doing something that lulls your heart to sleep. So, I hope you catch the buzz Mrs. Sanders has. May you, too, wake up in the morning with a pep in your step and a purpose in your heart. May you face your day with anticipation and joy, and may you fall asleep tonight knowing that you made a difference in someone’s life. If not, come teach with us! It’s super fun.
Sheryl Green is a secondary educator from Columbus. Email her at email@example.com.