Why a teacher works:
I was at a party for a neighbor, not a friend in sight.
On the deck we were talking politics, but not looking for a fight.
My companion was an army man, had served for twenty something years.
Our minds made up, our manners light, we were filling time and sipping beers.
We laughed and shook our heads, sharing both distrust and frustration,
30 min must have past, we wandered and enjoying the conversation.
A comfortable lag began to stretch…” so what do you do, he asked, as he took another sip.
I’m a teacher, I said, in elementary school. I saw surprise in his eye, a question on his lip.
Then I have to ask, he said straight faced, Why do you teach? He looked at me… and waited.
A “what teacher make” Moment? I wondered as I mounted my defenses, but then… I hesitated.
Because I paused, he went on, “You could do more, you’re clear headed and well spoken.
You make half what you’re worth. Why struggle in a system that seems pretty broken.
The job is tough, rewards are few. Your pay is clearly lacking,
Why train for years, work that hard, when demands keep stacking.
You make a difference, I get that, but you’re regarded with only platitudes.
The little kids? he ranted on, All those whiney pansy little attitudes.
He took a breath, and then a pull and waited for my edification.
Why do I teach…? What could I say, the solider deserved explanation.
So, I took a breath, and then a pull, and responded slow and clear.
You’re a military man? I ask, Yes sir, he replied, curious what he would hear.
Like you I said, It’s honor that drives me into my fight.
To do it for any other reason would simply not be right.
I teach because it’s who I am. It’s more than what I do.
It’s not the pay or false regard. No one knows that more than you.
Our nation is indomitable because of you. You keep us safe, make us thrive.
Our nation is ingenious because of me. I keep us moving, make us strive.
The moment lingered heavy while he considered my reflection.
Hoorah was all he said with a tilt in my direction.