Not a career, a commitment

By Gretchen Teske, Mt. Pleasant News


Both of my parents are elementary school teachers, which explains why I am not one. I thought for a while I wanted to be a teacher, but the more I saw and the more I heard, I decided against it.

Teaching is a great profession, don?t get me wrong. I come from a long line of great teachers, including my gram and my uncle. But knowing their job never ends, even after students graduate, made me shy away.

Growing up with two teachers in the house is tricky. On one hand, you can get great help with homework. On the other, you can?t get in trouble because your parent will know before you even do and the next thing you know you?re walking into the science lab for a ?chat?.

But I think the best part about being a teacher?s kid is seeing firsthand that teachers never stop being mentors. My dad is also the basketball and track coach at the grade school he teaches at. There have been numerous times that I came home, and grade-school boys are sitting at the kitchen table eating a grilled cheese because he ?just wanted to make sure they got some protein.?

My mom gave up several summer mornings to teach summer school for students who needed extra help. It was all volunteer work and in classrooms with no air conditioning because teaching isn?t a job as much as it is a commitment.

I?ve been to dinners where someone will walk up to my parents and say, ?remember me?? Usually my dad knows exactly who they are, while my mom is only guessing they?re a former student and trying to place which one they are. They always want to know how the family is, tell me some fun fact about them remembering the first time they met me when I was weeks old and elaborate on where they are now.

The best time was when my dad took me through the McDonald?s drive through and a former student recognized him and gave us extra fries. Jackpot!

Even though the students had long graduated elementary school, my parents were still ?Mr.? and ?Mrs.? to them. The respect and memories were still there even though they were now years old.

The thing about teachers is they don?t work just during school hours. They work during the summer, after school, they make grilled cheeses, they take their kids to McDonald?s and they most certainly answer phone calls at all hours of the night from disgruntled parents.

I can remember several times in my childhood where my dad would answer the phone, way past my bedtime. He would try to wrap up the conversation or promise to call them in the morning because a phone ringing so late and the conversation that followed would awake his three kids who were supposed to be sleeping. Sometimes it worked, but usually not. Parents only had so much time to be upset with the teacher after their own kids went to bed, so they were going to make sure the teacher listened.

Even after all the extra work they do, teachers still get blamed for the failing grades or poor behavior of students. And they always hear about it, no matter what time it is. I think sometimes people forget that teachers are people, too. They also have dogs to walk, yards to mow and families to go to dinner with. Their jobs extend beyond the walls of a classroom or the time required of them to be there. Teachers go above and beyond to do anything they can for students, and that never ends, but sometimes they?ve done all they can do and no amount of late night phone calls can change that.

As the school year wraps, teachers may be looking forward to family vacations or just relaxing, but in the back of their minds are lesson plans, seating charts, the hunt for new classroom books. Teachers don?t stop just because the school year, or day, has. They keep teaching, keep setting examples and trying their best to stand up to the commitment they made to the world to provide the best, well-rounded individuals they can.