Friday, January 23, 2009

Why teaching is worth it

I often say the best thing about teaching is June, July, and August, but really if you know me well, you know I'm joking.
I like to teach. It's fun to interact with kids and introduce them to Art. There is always a student who catches on, becomes interested, and life changes for them because they have found something that pulls them to school and helps them enjoy their day. It did for me. Art took me to school. Some students are 'trouble' in other classes and never in Art. It's their place to shine and some find working in Art a soothing session for their brain. My boss in Houghton Lake told me when they cut so many classes (due to financial difficulties) "We can't cut Art! So many kids stay in school because of Art class." He mentioned a couple students who, yes indeed, loved Art and it kept them in school.
I've met all kinds of kids. Had all kinds of experiences. I loved my High School students because they are grown up to a certain extent, planning their lives, or sometimes floundering and yet they can be helped. Or they are already the awesomely, incredible adult they will be, just a fledgling, but you know by knowing them that you are lucky to have the experience of spending time with them in the Art room.
I've had students who enjoy art and have no skill, students who I think should probably be tattoo artists, students with tethers, students in Advanced Placement, students who are studying Ministry, students who take a few weeks off to have a baby and then come back, students who drop out, students who graduate with honors, students who are now in jail. I even was lucky enough to babysit one students chihuahua for 9 months (and loved that dog) Where else can you meet such an incredible sampling of really neat people and sometimes even touch their lives in good ways with lasting effects.
I am in a middle school now and it has it challenges, but very good experiences also. They are more raw in their emerging personalities and so full of energy. Please can I have that energy??
It's been mentioned to me that the High School would be 'lucky' to have me, but you know, I don't want to pack everything up, start all over again in another building, learning new faces, new procedures, even where the staff restroom is. So I'm staying where I am and enjoying this place in time and space.

Anyway. Yesterday I got the sweetest note from an old student who found me through a google search and I just have to share part of that note.

It's so hard to believe that it will have been 3 years since graduation come this May! I'm sure your time in North Carolina has flown by as well. I just wanted you to know that I am going to (name removed for privacy) college now for Fine Arts Painting and Illustration. I want to be a college professor someday! I thought you might like to know that because honestly I have you to thank for it! Even though you weren't really a painter yourself, your passion for art always inspired me. Whether we were making altered books, or carving plaster, I enjoyed every minute I spent in your classroom!

And that my precious readers, is why every minute spent in a classroom, every evening doing all that 'extra stuff' no one knows about really unless they teach, the early mornings, the going to work sick, the day before holidays when the kids are climbing the ceilings, buying materials a budget doesn't include, fundraising, progress reports, etc, including that most difficult last few years up North with the school's 'issues' there......... a note like this puts it all into perspective.

So, if any of my old students slip by here and read this. I want to thank you for letting me be part of your life, and for helping me have a career that is entirely fulfilling and memorable!
I'm still plugging away in my Art room, still have that messy desk, and still love to laugh and make messes. :-)
thank you.

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