Why #ItsPersonal: The Teacher Protest

By: Kara Haselton

A lot of times, teachers get ignored.

The students are the important ones, the students are the ones that will be the future and (hopefully) do great things. But behind every successful student is a teacher—multiple, in fact. Teachers really don’t get the recognition that they deserve. That’s why Teacher Appreciation Week exists. But this year, teachers decided to take it a step further and rally for the jobs that inch their way closer to the chopping block every year. They marched for students and rallied for respect to show NC legislators just how much they care.

I also went to the rally because students should speak up about the state of education as well as their educators. We are the future, but teachers are the creators of that future. Without them, who are we?

I saw signs that said “I would rather be teaching, but this is important,” and “Not even librarians can keep quiet anymore.”

“You can’t put students first if you put teachers last.”

“Funding education is funding the future.”

The thing that got me the most, however, was just how many of the signs weren’t about the teachers themselves but about their students. They weren’t just marching to draw attention to the fact that NC is ranked 37th in the nation for teacher pay. They were marching to show how important education is because of the impact it has on us students. Teachers don’t teach for the money or for the recognition; they teach because they genuinely care and want to be the makers of the future.

Tell me why we don’t want to support that?

Without teachers, very few of us would ever learn, and even fewer would be able to make it out in the world. There aren’t many students who are determined and independent enough to learn on their own and succeed their own way. Teachers can make or break a class. They’re capable of helping students understand the foreign language of math and even love it. They’re capable of pointing out to Jo that writing is her strong suit and she should be very proud of that. They’re capable of teaching history in a way that is intriguing and relevant to the students. They’re capable of taking concepts and ideas that students never believed they could master and making them attainable, achievable, understandable, enjoyable, possible. They’re the ones that not only tell us that we can do something, but they give us the tools to do that something. They equip, prepare, improve.

Every successful society is built on the heads, hearts, and hands of teachers.

Throughout my school career I have had approximately 50 teachers. That’s a lot of influence, a lot of impacting, and a lot of learning. And just over the past four years of high school, I have been permanently impacted by incredible teachers. I have been able to develop relationships with some of them that I value just as highly as I value relationships with close friends. I’ve had a teacher who recognized my creativity and encouraged me to pursue it, even though it made no difference to them or their class. I’ve had a teacher who marked my paper all over but then took the time to encourage me and explain how I could improve. I’ve had a teacher who helped me recognize and find my voice in writing. I’ve had a teacher who brought me back a t-shirt from their vacation because it reminded them of me. I’ve had a teacher who let me cry on their shoulder when I was just too overwhelmed. I’ve had a teacher who taught me how to take initiative and be a leader. I’ve had a teacher who showed me what it looks like to be yourself, even in a strict social structure. I’ve had a teacher who would address and treat me as an equal. I’ve had teachers who have taken me to Ghana, made jokes with me, and pushed me on to a better future. My teachers are the reason I am who I am today.

For me personally, as I look back on high school and the time I’ve spent at Heritage, I have to say that I’m not going to miss high school much because I’m so thrilled for what the future has in store. But the thing I’m going to miss the most are the teachers. They’re the reason I enjoyed, for the most part, my high school experience. They’re the reason I excelled in my classes, and they’re the reason that I am a more mature person today. I’m sad to leave because I’m sad I won’t get to see them every day, talk to them every day, joke with them every day, learn from them every day. Teachers are the ones who provide the education, not the county, not the state, not even the nation. If teachers are taken away, underpaid, disrespected, and ignored, our education system will erupt from the inside; our future will be taken away and every aspect of life as we know it will be at stake. Teachers are multitaskers. Not only do they teach, but they build, they create, they empower, they listen, they serve, and they learn. Teachers are the most important human force on this planet, and if we empowered them? Just imagine what would happen to the rest of the world.

So, what about this protest? Was it important?

Yeah, I’d say so.

#ItsPersonal #Red4Ed #InThisTogether

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