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From Jacksonville Beach, FL

Monday, April 25, 2011

My Life as a School Teacher

                      Recent luncheon with other Sandalwood retirees.  I'm at lower left
                               of photo.  
     With all the talk these days about school teachers, their unions, their evaluation, their worth, I've summed up my years of teaching.  It was the most satisfying and the most frustrating career I could have chosen.  
      In college, I did not set out to be a school teacher, I wanted to be a journalist.  After my sophomore year, I enrolled in the College of Journalism, but before my junior year started, I had to transfer to education.  I had no money to continue and the state of Florida was offering scholarships to those who would go into education.  I took the test and got a scholarship. 
       I cried all the way to the post office when I mailed my acceptance of the scholarship, but I wanted to stay in school more than I wanted to be a journalist.  The move turned out to be the best for me.  I was not assertive enough to be a newspaper reporter.  I know that now, but didn’t know it then. 
      A teacher’s life and schedule was great for a mom, and being a mother was the most important thing to me.  I stayed in teaching for 34 years taking only two years off in 36 years.  I stayed out the year my daughter was born.  In those days, you were not allowed to teach once your pregnancy became obvious.  I took another year off to get my Masters in Education from Florida State University.  By this time, my daughter was four and I was divorced.  The two of us lived in Tallahassee for a year.  I had a NDEA Fellowship which paid all our expenses for living and for schooling. Those were the good old days of government support for teachers and education. 
       Through the 34 years, I taught in four different schools: two junior high and one senior high.  I taught English 9, 10—Seabreeze Senior High, Daytona Beach, FL;  English 9 and yearbook sponsor—Seabreeze Junior High
English 7, 9, journalism, newspaper sponsor—Stilwell Junior High School, Jacksonville, FL
English 9, Newspaper sponsor, English Dept. Chairman—
Highlands Junior High, Jacksonville, FL
 English 10, 11, 12, journalism, newspaper sponsor, mass media, film literature—Sandalwood High School, Jacksonville, FL
      I stayed at Sandalwood for 26 years where I enjoyed teaching film literature and English 12 more than the other subjects, and I had a love/hate relationship with being newspaper sponsor, which I did off and on for 12 years at Sandalwood and three years at junior high schools.
     Ironically, the best relationships with students and the most fun was working with the newspaper staffs. Frustrations were no money allocation for newspaper.  We had to pay our own printing and other costs.  Another frustration was lack of administrative support for student ideas and creativity.  After almost every issue I would be called into the principal’s office to explain some story that was true, but did not show the school in the best light.  My staff always struggled to break the limits.    Some principals were worse than others in calling us to explain.  
      Education and students were changing and not necessarily for the better when I decided to call it a career, but I'm happy to report my daughter has taken up the
mantle.  She started out as a journalist and ended up as English teacher.  As she says, "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree."

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