I am just like you. I am a spouse, who has taught my husband that you shouldn’t even dare to talk to me when report cards are due at 8am on Monday. I am a parent, who has trained my kids to think that a pancake on a stick is a healthy breakfast when time is just not on my side. I am a problem solver, who can manage to stop a kid from crying, a nose from bleeding, and a projector from overheating, all while my principal is observing me. I am a teacher, who is trying to connect to my students and meet their individual needs, even when there are 32 of them – just like you.
I don’t have a message that is any more important or more profound than you do. So instead of speaking TO you, let me speak FOR you. Let me be your voice. The funny thing about this role is that people suddenly take an interest in what you have to say. And I have a lot to say about the incredible things that are happening in public schools and the constant hard work, passion, and commitment of my fellow teachers. I’ve never been one to shy away from contentious conversations. I stand up for what I believe in, and fight as hard as I can to make things right, even if it ruffles a few feathers - so let me be your voice.
As I transition out of the classroom and into an instructional role for this school year, I am grateful for the opportunity to give back to all of you. This decision came with a lot of inner conflict and a little convincing, but I now see the value in stepping out of my comfort zone and taking risks, just like we push our students to do. I don’t consider myself an expert in anything, but I work hard to become better at everything, and I’m always willing to share what works. I hope you will reach out to me so I can give back - and let me serve you.
When I really think of who I am, I know most importantly that I am a lifelong learner – just like you. So, while I am here to serve, I am even more eager to learn. I have one magical year to be a student again and learn as much as I can from each of you. I want to learn what life is really like in classrooms from kindergarten to high school and everything in between. I want to see what gets you excited and motivates your students. I want to know what is working best in your classrooms. I hope that if I reach out to you, you will welcome me in - and let me learn from you.
After all of this happened, a good friend of mine joked about the time I wanted to leave the teaching profession – because I did. We’ve all been there. That year when the kids are so tough, the parents are so mean, and the circumstances are so negative, that it impacts your every moment and changes who you are, for the worse. But I pushed through, and with tenacity and perseverance, I learned that no one has the power to take away my love for this job. Fortunately, that most challenging year built up my strength and shaped who I am now and who I will be in this role.
This role is not meant for “the best teacher.” It’s meant for someone that is passionate and wants to celebrate the best of Michigan’s 100,000 teachers. The way I see it, I was only given this title because of good karma, good timing, good luck, and a LOT of good people around me - people just like you.
This whole thing has been a journey of self-reflection and growth, of digging deep into my beliefs and values as an educator. And here’s what I have found. I believe in every child, every day. I believe that not only are we responsible to shape the future of our students, but also the future of our schools, and the future of the teaching profession. I believe in the possibility to make a greater impact that can benefit all of us. So let me learn from you - let me serve you - and let me be your voice.