This week I invited Mr. Bill Nelson, the 2013 Oconee County Schools Teacher of the Year, to be a guest columnist for our “School Talk” segment. In the lines below he describes why he became a teacher and the impact it has had on his life and those he taught. Please read, reflect, and enjoy the wisdom of “Mr. Bill” in this week’s article. As you do, I would ask you to think about the great teachers in your own life. What characteristics made them great? What can we learn from their approach? Have you ever thanked them for their impact? I look forward to reading your thoughtful responses at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I spent twenty years of my life in academia before I entered the teaching profession. Since then, I have never looked back and I can't imagine myself doing anything other than teaching. I can think of no other profession where those with whom I once worked shout my name from across the parking lot, run up and give me a high five, or stop me in the grocery store to say "remember me?"
So, why did I become a teacher? I did not become a teacher to avoid working long hours and on most weekends. I did not become a teacher to get my summers off. I did not become a teacher to feel under-appreciated by parents. I did not become a teacher because our profession isn't well respected. I did not become a teacher to serve on more committees than I can shake a stick at. I did not become a teacher because of the enormous amounts of paperwork. I certainly did not become a teacher to pay for many classroom items out of my own pocket.
I did, however, become a teacher because we know that teaching is a profession dedicated to learning excellence and to community service. I did become a teacher because teaching allows me to work on hearts and minds. I did become a teacher because I never want to stop learning. I did become a teacher because I know that the greater responsibility students take for their work, the greater the learning. I did become a teacher because I know that there is no accomplishment without risk. I did become a teacher because even when I think I can’t make a difference in the life of a student, I will have made the difference for one. But the most compelling reason that I became a teacher is the desire to work with children. Where else could I help guide students in becoming confident, engaged, knowledgeable, supportive, and creative people who will make a meaningful difference in the world?