Just sayin…


Nice quote, isn’t it?  This is for a good friend who IS finding her way and just doesn’t realize how amazing she is.

We’re in the middle of spring break and after three beach days, we’re heading to Orlando to Harry Potter Land at Universal.  Loving EVERY minute of it, every single minute.

But what’s on my mind tonight has nothing to do with the kids or spring break or life in Paradise.  A young woman I know is a finalist for Teacher of the Year in Massachusetts.  She’s had a series of essay questions to answer to get this far…nice ones about why she’s a teacher, what she considers the biggest issue in education today, etc.  But the additional question that the finalists have to answer just annoys me.  “What have you done (are you doing) to contribute to your community outside of school?”

I know, I know…sounds like a good question but really…Is that what we want from our teachers?  They have to be wonder women (and men) in the classroom AND in the community? I suppose if there’s any extra time, maybe they might try to pay attention to their kids, their spouses, their family or (God forbid) themselves.  Oh please…

Maybe I’m the only one who thinks that teachers first need to take care of themselves, then their families and then the kids in school.  Maybe I’m the only one who thinks that if they have one shred of time or energy left, they can go ahead and volunteer at the local soup kitchen or organize a walk for Breast Cancer or knock on doors for the candidate of their choice or whatever….but if they don’t do that, it’s not a deal breaker when we’re describing exemplary teachers.

I will always be in awe of teachers who seem to do it all…school, community, church AND they and their families seem just fine. But if you can’t do it all and something has to give, my pick would be the volunteer work (plenty of time for that when you retire)  unless that volunteer work is something you are passionate about and doing it actually energizes you rather than depletes you.

So what question would I like to have seen?  Actually I’d love to have seen:  “Teaching can be enormously stressful. What do you do to nourish yourself, to renew yourself, to center yourself?” They might write about long walks on the beach or painting or dancing or music or meditation or running or going out to dinner or movies or reading or yoga or just sitting quietly and petting their dog. (Hopefully not drinking copious amounts of wine but if it is, better not write about it on a Teacher of the Year essay)

Enough. Can you tell I’m worried about teachers? I want them to be happy and healthy and at peace with themselves. I want them to love what they do and love those kids they meet at the door every day. And I don’t care if they do one minute of extra community service. If they do their job well, with joy and laughter and kindness, they have already done more community service than anyone could ever ask of them.


12 thoughts on “Just sayin…

  1. Hi Mary: AMEN to what you wrote about teachers! So nice to hear from you. Hope you and Jerry are feeling well and having fun.
    Enjoy and stay well.
    My Best Always,
    Carole Cohen

  2. I thought teaching WAS community service!

  3. Beautifully put but so sad that it’s necessary. I think this post would be an excellent letter to the editor of the Boston Globe. Wilma

    Sent from my iPhone


  4. “…If they do their job well, with joy and laughter and kindness, they have already done more community service than anyone could ever ask of them.” Well stated, Mary.

  5. Well put, Mary. The fact is you CAN do it all, just not all at once. Thanks for that. xoxo

  6. You are one wise woman, Mary! And have a great time in Orlando…so glad the weather has warmed for all of you!

  7. Here’s hoping her essay is about supporting her local opt-out movement!

  8. Shattuck, Gail

    Well said!!!!

    Gail Shattuck
    Information Systems Specialist
    Holyoke Public Schools
    57 Suffolk Street
    Holyoke, MA 01040
    413-534-2000 X228

    Our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in education.

  9. Go, Mary! Thanks for this. You and I both know that “young woman” you’re talking about and many times I wonder if teachers are just expected to do TOO MUCH! But thank goodness for great teachers!
    Have a great time with the Littles.

  10. Wonderful thoughts Mary coming from one of the most dedicated, caring teachers I have ever met!
    Have a wonderful time at Universal with your favorite little ones!

  11. I agree with Lynne – I have always felt that teaching was like community service! 😊

  12. Bravo! By nature, teachers nourish youth which directly contributes to the community. An exemplary teacher works to help all students believe in themselves to reach their highest potential. There is no other job that makes that kind of difference in the world. Thanks for your spot-on reflection.

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