I want them to discover what makes them happy and to follow that happiness. I truly believe that education, whether formal or informal, opens doors to the world.
A common complaint that I have heard from numerous students is that they don't feel as though education is important because they aren't going to be able to escape the small town where they live.
If you believe you are destined to be a manager at the local supermarket, it's very difficult to justify putting full effort into your chemistry class. I don't blame them at all. There are those who "escaped" but there are many who stay, either by choice or for lack of options. A large percentage of the teachers are either alumni or have lived in the town for decades. While it's not universal, it's very obvious to see why so many students think so.
How do I tell my students, many of whom are low-income, that if they work hard and set their minds to a task, they can accomplish their goals? How do I tell that they won't be out-maneuvered for a job they want by someone who is unqualified just because they person is rich or knows the right people?
How I continue to believe that we are meritocracy?
I continue to hope.
I continue to push them to be better tomorrow than they are today.
I continue to help them improve because I don't just want a better tomorrow for them, I want a better tomorrow.
I continue to question and to seek.
I remind myself that I know in my heart that this is what I'm supposed to be doing.
I don't have millions of dollars to give to political campaigns, but I have a classroom. I have a doorway to the future and I help the children under my care to walk through it.
Some will go on to college and some won't.
Some will have jobs they love and some won't.
Some will be happy.
Some will move away.
Some will plant roots right where they are.
I will not despair, I will not give up and I will not give in.
Over the course of my teaching career, I will have 4000 students who will go into the world, both near and far and will pay forward the lessons that I teach them. Every one of their lives will be different because I am in it. Every life they touch in turn will be changed as well.
My power is exponential.
I am a Teacher and I shape the future.