Monday, June 9, 2014

The Teacher's Apology

A few months ago, my brother and sister-in-law both got pretty big promotions that were accompanied by significant raises.  The whole family was bursting with pride and my parents and I told anyone who would listen about how great Bubba and Jules were doing in their careers.  After an evening that I spent with my parents and some family friends, I found myself apologizing to my parents.  For the fact that I'll never get a promotion, or a big, merit-based raise for them to brag about.  Teaching isn't a profession where one moves up the rank, we just gain seniority and one day are appointed department chair and are expected to do a lot of extra work for a measly stipend.

I felt bad that I'll never accomplish anything of great stature for my parents to brag about and they told me I had better put those thoughts out of my mind, that while the things I do might not be recognized by society, they still matter.  Like being in charge of Key Club, the school's service organization and inspiring my students to help, understand and love others.  Like being involved in our Freshman orientation program to make the freshman feel so much more comfortable when they first come to Mercy.  Like when I come home late because I stayed after school to help a struggling student.  Like when I go on retreat and share part of my story with them and help them realize that even though I'm a grown-up, I still have a lot of the same thoughts and issues they do and that it's okay.  Like when I have to cut off the number of recommendation letters I'll write in the fall (10 is my limit!) because I have a lot of kids that want me to write theirs.  Like when a senior comes and asks me to be the one to cut her hair that she is donating to Beautiful Lengths.

I felt so honored that one of our sweetest and brightest seniors asked me to be the one to cut her hair for donation.

These things won't get me a raise, they won't get me bragging rights at the next family gathering or HS reunion, but they're the reason I get up every morning and come into work.  They're the reason I continually work on my patience, why I always try to go to bed on time, why I eat a big breakfast every morning, why I live my life the way I do and act and dress the way I do: so that I can be my best for my students, give them the love and respect they deserve and hopefully serve as a role model for some of them.  At the end of the day, their successes, accomplishments and happiness are my raise because it lifts me up and reminds me that what I do matters. 

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