Small restarts and back to school

Published 9:53 pm Wednesday, August 24, 2016

By Amy Davis

As a teacher, when August rolls around everyone I run into asks me the same question: Are you ready to go back to school?

I used to say, “No,” because I thought that’s what people expected to hear. However with age comes wisdom and my new response is, “Of course; I love my job.”

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Summers are not only a perk of teaching but a requirement for being a great teacher and continuing to love this career. I’m tired of people making me feel guilty for loving my summers, a fog delay or a snow day. Teachers willingly give up so many freedoms that accompany most careers.

For instance, most of my professional friends have flexibility during their day because of their lunch hour. They meet friends for lunch, run errands, skip it and leave early, work out or run home to let their dog out. Teachers are usually using this time to go to the restroom, make copies, supervise lunch, feed students, or make phone calls, all while trying to eat a sandwich.

Another downfall of teaching is taking time off. Yes, we get built-in holidays but what if your best friend plans a destination wedding in the middle of April? Most teachers get two personal days a year, and some systems won’t let you take them consecutively, not to mention the guilt that comes along with leaving your students with sub plans. You pretty much have to travel according to built-in holidays.

And then, of course, there is the financial compensation.

A starting teacher’s pay isn’t that bad for an educated professional. The shortfall is compensation for experience, rewards for excellence and opportunities to advance. But what most people forget is the amount of money we give as teachers to do our jobs. What other professional has to buy supplies?

We are provided with some things like desks, computers and smart boards, but what about pencils, markers, paper, crafts, staplers, hole punchers, and so on? There would be an uproar if nurses were forced to buy their own gloves or tissues for patients.

I’m not trying to make folks feel sorry for teachers. I signed up well aware of every point I’ve discussed. My mother was an outstanding teacher for 34 years. Every job has its pros and cons.

The beautiful thing is that no one forced any of us into our professions. If you are unhappy then find a new career that makes you happy.

In what other job does one get to say good morning to hundreds of young people each day and hear it back 99 percent of the time? What other job allows you to show your school spirit every Friday? Where else does one get to dance in pep rallies, Zumba with her boss, or dress like a superhero?

In what other job do you get to influence countless students? What other job allows you to see proud graduates walk across the stage in June?

What other job do you get to walk around the county fair with kids calling your name? What other job do you get to witness countless acts of kindness each day by volunteering, befriending a student with a disability, giving a hug, voting a student with special needs homecoming king? What other job do you get to write letters of recommendation for exceptional students?

In what other job do you get to make such a difference?

Teachers, love every minute of your summer. Take advantage of the extra hour when it’s foggy and keep praying for snow, and don’t let anyone make you feel bad about it, because throughout our year we need the small restarts to keep going and a hard restart in the summer.

I hope you all have a fabulous school year!

Amy Davis is a teacher at Southampton High School. Her email is amycdavis05@gmail.com.