Ukiah Unified School District

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The Power of Partnership, Innovation and Learning

School Desk: Getting to the heart of education

There are few fields of employment that literally touch the lives of every person other than education. For most, it is a personal journey; for others, it is a vicarious or more supportive experience. Whatever the situation, the world of school is so intensely threaded into the fabric of our communities that one can barely separate the two. So you can imagine that with SO many stakeholders making up the forum we call education, there may be differing opinions, thoughts, or ideas. With this in mind, we look to the guiding principles and leadership for direction, support, and encouragement.

Two questions often come up for anyone in the world of professional education. The first is, “why did you become a teacher?” and the second is, “why are you still a teacher?” I became a teacher because I found that I enjoyed working with children in the many volunteer positions I had previously held. I found that children were inspiring, innovative, and basically little geniuses! When they ask why I am still a teacher, I emphatically reply, “it is so much more!” “Love what you do, and you’ll never work a day in your life!” An old cliche that still rings true. I can say with confidence that I love my profession! 

I love that thousands of dedicated teachers are working hard to educate the children, preteens, and young adults in our communities. I am in awe of the work I have seen by so many caring adults and grateful each day for the chance to be a voice of encouragement to the children and colleagues I serve. The heart of our work is in the success we feel through our work with students. Time and time again, I have seen teachers advocate for their students to get services, supplies, supports, or accolades. I have listened to teachers celebrate students who have met or exceeded their goals while helping them overcome hurdles of illness, homelessness, and many other challenging situations. 

With all that in mind, preparing the future leaders of tomorrow is a precious position to be in, and it is one that should be nurtured and honored. Yet, states are currently seeing a massive enrollment decline in teacher preparation programs and an exodus of individuals who initially joined the world of teaching, only to leave it immediately. These are troubling trends for young and future parents, students, and communities. For those currently in this profession, I hope they receive the supports that will keep them loving what they do as much as I do. I say this as someone who knows how extremely difficult this profession can be. The learning demands of students today are unlike those of the past. Secondary trauma, chronic absences, class interruptions, technology glitches, and many other daily hiccups can derail a day’s plan. 

This profession is not for the faint of heart. This profession requires grit, resilience, and gratitude. The grit helps me to fight for the things that will make this job attractive to the best and the brightest. Those are the people I want to be standing at the ready, waiting to join this beautiful profession. Resilience is having the power to stay focused on the good, the goals, and the success. Gratitude is thanking all of the many stakeholders that make this forum work. I thank my colleagues, administrators, school board, parents, students, and others for their role in this work that our community does. The truth of the matter is that students are the center of everything we do.