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A rewarding profession


By: Faye Snodgress
Executive Director
Kappa Delta Pi 

The role of the educator has never been so important. The demographics in many schools reflect the great melting pot of our society. In the fall of 2014, the overall number of Latino, African American, and Asian students in public K–12 schools surpassed the number of non-Hispanic European Americans for the first time. In addition to a thorough knowledge of their subject areas and teaching methods, today’s educators must have the skills to relate to diverse students.

But some students bring more than just diversity to school. Some also bring deeply troubling problems. For example, one out of five children in the U.S. goes to school hungry—as the number of children living in poverty has increased to more than 15.3 million. The physical, emotional and cognitive needs of these children require schools and classroom teachers to provide multiple levels of support. However, many school districts with high levels of poverty can’t fully fund the very programs their students need.

At the same time, the focus on standardized tests and, in many states, the link between teacher pay and students’ test scores have contributed to many teachers’ feelings of loss of autonomy and valuable instructional time. It’s no surprise that up to 50% of newly hired teachers have left the profession by their fifth year, and that the number of college students pursuing degrees in education has dropped by 35% nationally.

So why do teachers return to their classrooms day after day—despite the legislative mandates, lack of support and other pitfalls? Because no profession is more rewarding. Nothing compares with the pride and newfound confidence in the eyes of a student who has just read his or her first word after a long struggle to develop literacy skills. For a teacher, moments like these—when a student gains a new skill or connects to a new idea or concept—inspire an intense sense of joy and accomplishment. Where else can a professional find an opportunity to change lives every day?

In the words of entertainer Danny Kaye: “The greatest natural resource that any country can have is its children.” Teachers have the power to magnify the impact of this vital natural resource. Through education, students discover their potential to make a difference in the world. To be the one who guides that personal discovery is to be a part of something magical and profound at the heart of a noble profession.

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