The highest place you’ll ever step is down to serve another who has nothing to give back—except maybe their heart and a changed life because you invested in them.
Teachers spend their lives investing in the future of others. They deserve our support and listening ear. It is my honor to host these eleven teachers from five states.
Why did you become a teacher?
Jeff Fauver, Physical Education Teacher and Coach, Marion, Illinois: I became a teacher largely because my father was a teacher/ coach. I saw the impact and influence he had on young men’s lives. They would come by and visit years after they had graduated. I’ve taught and coached for over 30 years—elementary, middle and high school.
Doctor Laura Seabury, Professor of nursing at Cape Cod Community College:
When my kids started school, I wanted to take courses at college. I chose nursing and I loved it. I never thought I would be a nurse or teacher when I was young. So whatever led me on this road was the right road. I have my Doctorate in nursing education and I’ve been teaching since 1997.
I was a nurse before a teacher. I graduated from this program at Cape Cod Community College and knew as a student that I wanted to be a teacher here. I worked at several hospitals, such as Massachusetts General and Jordan Hospital in Boston. When I got my Masters degree I returned to work as a clinical instructor at Cape Cod Community College full time teaching at the lab. Three years ago I became a lecturer and I teach clinical also.
Clinical involves teaching students caring for patients in the hospital setting, a medical surgical unit, two days a week. Each student takes care of one to two patients.
I noticed the sticker on your door: “Save a life. Be a nurse.” 🙂 It’s also Nurse Appreciation Week and you are both a nurse and a teacher, so I’m thrilled to have you participate in this interview, Dr. Seabury. Thank you for answering the call to a combination of two of the toughest professions.
Elementary School Special Education Paraprofessional, Cape Cod Massachusetts: I love, love, love my job as an assistant teacher. I’ve worked with children from kindergarten to fourth grade for 20 years. This year I’m one on one with a second grader with significant special needs and I don’t have a minute to spare.
Social Studies Teacher, Fort Worth Texas, 6 1/2 years teaching: To build a better future for a generation that’s lost its drive to go further.
Steve Perkins, High School Latin Teacher, Author and Speaker, Indiana Teacher of the Year 2014: God called me to teaching when I was a high school junior. This is my 28th year of teaching Latin. I have taught in Missouri, Texas, and Indiana at the middle school, high school, community college, and university levels.
Middle School Math Teacher, Texas. (17 years teaching high school and middle school math and science.): I became a teacher because I really loved school and saw it as a chance to make a difference in lives.
Middle School English Teacher, Massachusetts: Because it’s important for the youth to be educated; they are the future.
Special Education Teacher currently for 3rd and 4th Grade, Massachusetts: Different careers interested me as I grew up such as lawyer and nurse. In high school I took a class that included exploration of careers and spent a day on the pediatric floor of a hospital. It was a heart wrenching experience. I realized that day that I wanted to work with children, but I did not have the gifting to be a nurse. It was at that point that I directed my attention to becoming a teacher.
I was drawn to the hurting and needy, wanting to make a difference in the world somehow. Special education was a new field of study when I entered college. Supporting students with learning disabilities piqued my desire to make a difference in the lives of children. I’ve been a special educator for over 25 years and I can say for certain that I made the right choice.
Leshil Holder, 4th Grade Reading Teacher, Tennessee: I became a teacher because I wanted to make a difference in someone’s life. My main goal is to glorify God in my classroom. I will begin my 10th year of teaching in the 2019-2020 school year.
Angela Georgantas, 12th Grade English Teacher, Writer and affiliate with The Fellowship of Christian Athletes club at her school, Texas: English was always my favorite subject, but I didn’t want to be a teacher. I majored in marketing but only worked for two years before I became a stay at home mom for a decade. When my kids went to school, I subbed to make money. I tried elementary school for 2 weeks and made a second grader cry. I tried junior high for one day and ran screaming from the building, (metaphorically). I tried high school, and it was like the gears of the universe clicked: God had called me to teach, and I was home. Within two months, I was back at school to get my teaching certificate, and I have loved it ever since. I have taught for 14 years.
Professor Patricia Allen, Professor of English, Cape Cod Community College: I teach because I was the kid who dropped out, the kid who hit the wall of hopelessness. I teach to keep other kids from hitting that wall. I have been teaching for 22 years.
I dropped out of high school when I was 16, I got my GED and found my way to community college when I was a thirty year old mom with five kids and an injured husband. Amazing teachers kindled a fire to learn inside me and I transferred to Wellesley College, then Harvard for grad school. Now I am back to the community college where I was taught, trying to kindle fires in my own students.
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. Ephesians 2:10
What is your greatest challenge as a teacher?
Social Studies Teacher, Fort Worth Texas: Students who choose to disrupt class, with no consequences from the school, which adds up to no changes in behavior.
Elementary School Special Education Paraprofessional, Cape Cod Massachusetts: I couldn’t be a classroom teacher because I feel that in this country they’re not respected. What’s expected of ONE teacher to do for 15-28 children is impossible!
Many children today are arriving without basic life skills. The country then in turn adds more standards to teach—(much harder and more demanding than when my boys were young), but nothing to do with respect one another—just more standards! By standards I mean teaching to the test and the same test for every student when we know most boys learn very differently than most girls…
Middle School Math Teacher, Texas: Meeting student needs. There are so many unmet social and emotional needs as well as basic etiquette.
Leshil Holder, 4th Grade Reading Teacher, Tennessee: My greatest challenge is meeting the needs of all students. There’s such a diverse range of behavioral needs.
Special Education Teacher currently for 3rd and 4th Grade, Massachusetts: Education experiences a continuous flux of change. From one year to the next the curriculum, the staff , and the administrators change, and on and on it goes. I find it difficult to be flexible and accept these changes as quickly as they happen, but I must.
Steve Perkins, High School Latin Teacher, Indiana: Dealing with the consequences from decisions made by those who have no understanding of what true education is.
Jeff Fauver, Physical Education Teacher and Coach, Illinois: Many challenges. One being all the state legislation that keeps changing regarding things like mandatory student tests, teacher evaluation process, teacher certification and testing, curriculum changes. A lot of valuable and creative classroom time is taken just trying to comply with state standards.
Angela Georgantas, 12th Grade English Teacher, Texas: One great challenge is keeping kids accountable in a data-driven system. The school has goals to achieve to meet and exceed state standards, and the kids have figured out that, with few exceptions, they will not be allowed to fail. I want to teach the whole child and prepare my students for adulthood, but there is a real pressure on teachers to do whatever it takes to meet those number goals.
Doctor Laura Seabury, Professor of Nursing at Cape Cod Community College: Facing the tears after students take their finals. It’s hard to see people that can’t make it in the program, when you see someone wanting their dream and they can’t attain it.
Anna Colby, 8th Grade English Teacher, Massachusetts: Knowing a child’s home struggles and not being able to help as I would like to. Having to leave my students when I move. Them leaving me at the end of the year.
Professor Patricia Allen, Professor of English: I think that the greatest challenge we all face, including teachers, is our shortened attention spans and the distraction of technology. We need to force ourselves to take time to think and to listen.
What one thing can we as a country and as individuals do to support you in your call to teach?
Doctor Laura Seabury, Professor of nursing at Cape Cod Community College: Making college affordable or free because many aren’t successful in this program because they are working so much and still have to feed their families and pay their rent.
Elementary School Special Education Paraprofessional, Cape Cod Massachusetts: The pay for teachers should start at the very same pay a brain surgeon begins at. This is just my opinion from my view as a teacher’s aide of course!!
Anna Colby, 8th Grade English Teacher, Massachusetts: Give us more of an education budget and less restrictive requirements. More funding for things such as lab equipment, books and field trips. More freedom with curriculum choice and from standardized tests.
Social Studies Teacher, Fort Worth Texas: STOP the testing madness, let teachers evaluate students as individuals, not just a data point.
Middle School Math Teacher, Texas: Value education. Teach your children at home how to be good citizens, value each other. Help meet their needs.
Leshil Holder, 4th Grade Reading Teacher, Tennessee: Teachers are not taken as seriously as other professionals. I’ve never understood why. Ultimately, everyone begins with a #teacher.
Jeff Fauver, Physical Education Teacher and Coach, Illinois: Encourage us. We often get a lot of negative feedback & criticism. Positive comments and supportive parents mean a lot.
Angela Georgantas, 12th Grade English Teacher, Texas: Vote against more standardized testing. (I saw a bill proposing to start in kindergarten instead of third grade.) Read to/ with your children every single day and talk to them about the idea that they are not victims, but have control over their own lives when they take responsibility for themselves. Stop blaming teachers for bad behavior and missing work. Hold kids accountable at home as well as supporting teachers’ policies at school.
Special Education Teacher currently for 3rd and 4th Grade, Massachusetts: Teach? Pray. Pray for our schools, our children, and their families.
Steve Perkins, High School Latin Teacher, Indiana: As individuals, pray. As a country, reduce state and federal interference and eliminate the reliance on standardized tests.
What is your most rewarding/ favorite aspect or memory of teaching?
Doctor Laura Seabury, Professor of nursing at Cape Cod Community College: The clinical aspect is my favorite. I’m one on one with the students when we are bedside with a patient.
I received the Golden Apple Award, and am a member of Phi Theta Kappa. Students select a teacher to receive the Apple award once a year for teaching excellence. It’s completely student driven—they nominate and elect. That was an honor.
I was nominated by my colleagues for the Excellence in Teaching award from Cape Cod Community College.
Elementary School Special Education Paraprofessional, Cape Cod Massachusetts: This is the reason I love my job so much. As an assistant I, (today anyway), don’t have any state imposed standards— just love and respect each child!! Oh, and naturally every teacher comes prepared to do that also! ♥️
Social Studies Teacher, Fort Worth Texas, 6 1/2 years teaching: Seeing students grow and change and moving on to better things. Building relationships with students.
Middle School Math Teacher, Texas: When you finally reach the one you never thought you could. The hug at the end of the year, or years later when they find you and say it was you who made the difference.
Steve Perkins, High School Latin Teacher, Indiana: Seeing students discover something new and learning to use their gifts to the fullest.
Anna Colby, 8th Grade English Teacher, Massachusetts: When a student finally grasps a concept, watching their eyes light up.
Jeff Fauver, Physical Education Teacher and Coach, Illinois: Knowing you made a difference or were a positive influence in a kid’s life.
Angela Georgantas, 12th Grade English Teacher, Texas: At the end of the year, I have my kids write letters to a favorite teacher, thanking that person for what he/she has done. Many of my kids choose to write to me, and those letters warm my heart. When they tell me that I made them think about things in a new light or that I cared for them in a way that they noticed and appreciated, it really makes everything worthwhile. I pray for them while I have them, and again and again over the years as God lays them on my heart. They become a part of my life.
Leshil Holder, 4th Grade Reading Teacher, Tennessee: Teaching is not a walk in the park. It is a very challenging and difficult vocation. Witnessing little minds think critically and become inspired is a great reward for me.
What one tip would you like to share to help other teachers?
Doctor Laura Seabury, Professor of nursing at Cape Cod Community College: Really care about the students. Listen to them—It’s really important.
Social Studies Teacher, Fort Worth Texas, 6 1/2 years teaching: See the individual and listen to who they are and who they are trying to be.
Leshil Holder, 4th Grade Reading Teacher, Tennessee: Realize that in the first few years, you won’t have it all together. Seek out the help of colleagues. You will continue to learn as you go along. Eventually, you will create your own routine.
Special Education Teacher currently for 3rd and 4th Grade, Massachusetts: Teaching is a 24/7 job. It is more than just instructing students; it involves being a lifelong learner. Always growing in your own knowledge in order to better educate your students. It is a rewarding profession, but it consumes much of your time and energy. It requires a delicate balance to keep your personal life healthy.
Hats off to the cap off as you set sail into the high calling to steer young minds and hearts, my Anna!
Anna Colby, 8th Grade English Teacher, Massachusetts: Treat your students like humans—don’t coddle or talk down to them. Speak to them as equals and they will rise to and surpass the level they need to be at.
Jeff Fauver, Physical Education Teacher and Coach, Marion, Illinois: Don’t take things so seriously. Have a sense of humor. I love making a kid laugh or smile. Some have terrible home situations. You can be that one bright spot during their day.
Angela Georgantas, 12th Grade English Teacher, Texas: My first year teaching, my mentor told me, “You can do what you can do,” and that little statement set me free. As teachers, we like control, and as Christians we work hard to serve our children, but the fact is that we work in a broken system and live in a fallen world.
Philippians 4:6-7 says:
Be careful for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
There is really only so much that desire and hard work can accomplish. The rest we have to leave to God.
You can check out Angela’s blog which includes some free downloadable PowerPoint bible lessons here: No Longer Lukewarm—for Red Hot Christians and Wanna Be’s
Steve Perkins, High School Latin Teacher, Indiana: Remember the high nature of your calling. If teaching is merely a job, then find something else to do.
Steve is the author of numerous books and articles in the field of Classical Studies, including the popular Latin For Dummies. In addition to being the 2014 Indiana Teacher of the Year, Steve is a recipient of The College of Wooster Excellence in Teaching Award, the Lilly Teacher Creativity Fellowship, the Dr. Elizabeth Watkins Latin Teacher Award from the American Classical League, and was the Texas Foreign Language Association Latin Teacher of the Year. He is also a member of Phi Kappa Phi and Phi Beta Kappa
Steve blogs at:
Middle School Math Teacher, Texas: What we do matters, it matters now, and it definitely matters in your students’ future. Teaching content comes second to teaching them to be good people.
Remember, hearts are easier to break than mend.
They say in writing you should show rather than tell. So too in shepherding children.
Encouragement is empowerment.
#teacherappreciation should extend to all year. #ThankATeacher
A day in the life of a teacher who serves with a tender heart in a tough school:
TEACHER: Texting you this… Need people to help remind me why I teach when I’m having bad days.
Teaching is one of the hardest jobs. You rarely ever get kudos. You mostly hear what you are doing wrong.
So, in those rare moments when the smoke clears, and you see what truly matters, and you see the little things you do, and the impact they can have, that is the gold you have to hold unto—or you will quit… Continued here
Know this, faithful mom—your measure is immeasurable. You bring things to your family that they can’t hire out, buy out, or do without… Click here to continue reading my article, The Measure of a Mom, published on Southern Ohio Christian Voice.
Happy Mother”s Day!
© 2019 Rachael M Colby | Tattoo It On Your Heart