Today I’m giving you a peek into my classroom at Parkview High School in Springfield, MO, where I am proud to be a public school teacher. If I had chosen a different profession or decided to teach at a private school, I would be missing out on these public school students, whom I love. They are passionate, extraordinarily talented, busy, tired, hilarious, and sometimes angry. And they are mine. I was thinking just yesterday about how I could not imagine myself in any other profession. How, yes, some days are difficult, but these students are amazing and I wouldn’t want to teach any where else.
My day started with English II Honors and my students were putting the final touches on their modern interpretations of a choice Shakespearean play. Over the past three weeks, students have read, watched, and analyzed their play of choice and are now tweaking their performances, either filmed or going live, for whole class presentations starting later this week. My student teacher and I are excited for the final reveal and we have a feeling that we may be laughing, to the point of tears, during some of these productions.
One student who has stood out to me during the last three weeks is a girl I will call E. She has been an integral part in her group’s interpretation of A Midsummer Night’s Dream, bringing hilarity to their production. After having E in class last year, in English I Honors, I was privileged to get to teach her again this year as we both moved up to English II Honors. The smile on her face would never let you know of the struggles she’s been through. E’s father has tried his best, but their family has had it rough. Her mother passed away from heart problems when E was a toddler and her father has had a kidney transplant and weekly dialysis trips for years. Her only option for education is public school. The anxiety that E must face on a daily basis is enough to send an adult into a panic attack, but not her. She comes to school, she is involved in three sports, she plays bass in the jazz band and she excels in her honors classes. She has an infectious smile and kind eyes and I don’t worry about her because I know she will be okay. She will make it through high school and continue on to college where she will no doubt be successful. There are not enough positive adjectives to describe this young woman.
To think that E’s public education could be changed because of the funneling of money to charter schools is disheartening. Without a strong public education where would she be? How would she break the cycle of poverty she’s in due to her mother’s death and her father’s health problems? Reasons far beyond her control. She could be desolate, but she knows. She knows the way out comes from within these publicly funded walls she calls her school. She is proud of who she is and where she’s going, and I am proud of her. If I wasn’t a public school teacher, I wouldn’t get to meet amazing people like E. I am public school proud.