Teachers, This One’s For You!

This past month the West Virginia teachers decided to walk out. The teachers were disheartened because they were to receive a 1% raise but would be required to pay more for health care. The legislators drug their feet and argued over the details, wondering why on Earth the teachers were so upset. WV ranks 48th in the country in teacher pay. Many teachers took the job knowing their salaries were not going to be high, but they were assured that their insurance benefits would make up the difference, so they settled, oh, I mean accepted that fact.

Now, I grew up in WV and have a niece who teaches in WV currently. When I graduated from college in the 80’s I searched for months for a teaching job. So, did many of my friends. Not one of us found one in WV. We all relocated to find jobs elsewhere. We did find jobs in Ohio, New Jersey, Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina, and elsewhere. We built our lives in these new states and made homes for ourselves and our families.

We have returned to WV to visit family, but we have seen sadness there. Businesses closed, buildings in disarray, unemployment high, underemployment the norm, and people looked tired and worn down by life. My son once asked me why everyone in my hometown looked so sad. I was shocked that a young boy would notice this. I wanted to say because they are worked to death and unvalued, that the leaders in WV do not seem to have a vision for their citizens, but I said that there were just a lot of elderly people and they sometimes look sad.

I have endured WV jokes. (yes, we wore shoes), my close friend lives in New York City, she has endured WV jokes. However, when all her “big city” friends got to know what a hardworking, ambitious, articulate, amazing person she was, their opinions of WV changed. The stigma of being from WV and being ignorant should not exist.

Every state, every city, and every school need great teachers. These are the people who make change. Education has long been the key to getting out of generational stagnation and poverty. Education is hope. Education is the light that should pull children toward a better life.

Teachers do way more than just stand in front of a classroom and lecture. (Even this image is old school in today’s classroom.) Here are just a few things I have either done or witnessed, do you still agree that teachers really deserve just a 1% raise or even a 5%?

  • Brought in snacks for students who had none
  • Provided shampoo, soap, toothpaste, deodorant in bathrooms for students so they would not feel self-conscious and could focus on learning instead
  • Created a closet of dresses, belts, and suit coats for students who had nothing to wear for formal occasions.
  • Brought in a washer/dryer to the school so students could have clean clothes
  • Took students’ clothes home to wash so they were not embarrassed by stains or smells
  • Bought school supplies, binders, markers, colored pencils, stickers, etc…
  • Drove students to local college campuses to open their world to higher education
  • Sat for hours filling out college applications with students
  • Provided translators during parent/teacher conferences for parents with limited English
  • Held parent/teacher conferences late into the night or at various times during school hours, so even parents with 2 jobs had the opportunity to come and talk to the teachers
  • Brought in shoes for students, cleats are expensive, dress shoes are a luxury
  • Hired a beautician to come to the school and wash & cut student’s hair because they were traumatized by an abusive situation during their last haircut
  • Sat with students during suicidal episodes, anxiety attacks, bi-polar explosions, abuse accusations, and police questioning
  • Took students to district competitions who would have missed it and their chance to show their academic prowess because of no means of transportation
  • Tutored students for free during lunch or afterschool so they could succeed
  • Attended funerals in the middle of the summer for a former student’s family member
  • Found scholarship money or donations for students who wanted to take band but could not afford an instrument
  • Started an all school free breakfast program for any student
  • Advocated to high school for students so they would be accepted to private high schools because they deserved the opportunity
  • Attended soccer games, track meets, choir concerts, band recitals, plays, basketball, baseball, and softball games

Believe me, teachers do these things and much more daily. Let’s respect teachers and education. It is time!

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.                           

Nelson Mandela


  1. Well said my friend.

  2. Marge wiethe

    I knew you were and are a good teacher but even I have not realized all the extra things you do. It truly makes me proud but would hope more people would come to appreciate all this caring effort well beyond what is required. You are more than a teacher, you are an inspired caregiver with a huge heart and to think I am you mother.it humbles me.

  3. Samantha

    Could not have said it better myself! Teaching is such a disrespected profession yet it’s one of the the most mentally taxing professions there are. I love seeing a list of all the extra things we do that others don’t realize! Being part of the strike was empowering, but also heartbreaking at times to hear some of the public’s thoughts on teachers. Thank you for this! ❤️

    • I think it is time to stand up because we are not standing up for teachers as much as we are standing up for the kids. Why is society falling apart? Children are floundering, parents are absent, drug addicted, overwhelmed, and need support, teachers step up and do this daily. This is overwhelming for teachers too, but we do it, so when people say horrific things about teachers, it is so disappointing and cuts to our hearts. Teaching is a craft that is not easy, instead of “Wife Swap” we ought to initiate “Teacher Swap” let politicians step into a classroom of angry teens with huge chips on their shoulder and see how long they last!

  4. Celeste

    These are just a few of the many things I’ve observed big hearted teachers such as yourself do for their students. These teachers are not just showing up and doing a job. These teachers love their students like their own kids and treat them with the same love. No amount of money could every match the priceless difference a truly caring teacher makes in the lives of their students. Teacher salaries are an investment in the future of our young people. So let’s invest in keeping great teachers in the classroom.

    • Well said Celeste. You also did many wonderful and shall we say, “crazy” things to get your students to learn. When you are willing to teach in various accents and various characters to motivate students, you are not average!

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