This is my first time blogging, so I hope you will bear with me.
So, it's August already. How does summer fly by so quickly? Once again, I am reading and inundated by the word from media and our politicians about how I (as a public school teacher) am the bane of society. Our public schools fail our kids and we're to blame. I guess I'm naive. I only started teaching six years ago - coming into the profession from being a professional actor for fifteen years first. I wanted to "give back." I've led a good life - traveled the world, performed on Broadway and in films. I've got it "good" (apologies to all the English teachers out there). And you know what? I LIKE my job. I love the kids. And I work in a public school... in New Jersey (where we are vilified) and I think we make a difference to our kids.
Now, our school is diverse, lots of different students from around the world in different economic and religious environments. Lots of different issues and academic standards. Our budget got slashed last year and I haven't had a raise in two years. But this past year, by using applied theatre, my public school students researched, developed and wrote their own original device drama about bullying that won awards from Mental Health Associations, has received critical acclaim, has created change in our district and made things better and safer, and is going to be published by a major house this year. Not bad for one of those struggling public schools, right? This group of diverse students (Hispanic, Asian, African American, Caucasian, Indian) worked together to create change - and did it.
I'm proud to be a public school teacher. I wouldn't give up my job for the world.