Last week, I was able to visit the T.E.A.C.H. Academy at Clark High School to sit and talk with the juniors and seniors in the program. T.E.A.C.H. stands for Teacher Education Academy at Clark High.
These bright young women and men are on the path to entering college and becoming teachers. As I walked into the classroom, I realized that this was going to be different than most visits. The students were not only eager to talk, they had prepared numerous questions to learn more about me, my path to this position and various other topics that will impact their futures.
Let me be clear, this was probably the second most difficult interview I have participated in since I became superintendent. (The most difficult, by far, was with a class of fourth-grade students at Kay Carl Elementary School. This includes the numerous media interviews I have done over the years!) These students asked typical questions: Why did you go into teaching? What advice do you have for new teachers? Etc.
The questions that really required me to think deeply prior to answering included what did I believe teachers need to know before going into the classroom, why teachers are not looked upon more favorably in the community and what were my thoughts on school choice. These students were well prepared for the time with me and showed me what great future teachers we have in our own schools.
As I pondered the answer to what teachers needed to know, I had a flashback to having to write my personal philosophy of teaching when I was a senior in college. I truly wish I could locate that document (it was typed on a typewriter) and see how naïve I truly was before my first year of teaching. I am sure that it had all the right words and phrases and reflected the latest teaching philosophy. But it couldn’t have had the real philosophy that our fantastic teachers live by on a daily basis.
As I left the classroom at Clark High School, I shared with the students that I would be writing about this in my blog. They are the future of teaching in Clark County School District and when they are hired into our schools, they will make a significant difference (and Clark T.E.A.C.H. students – the job offer still is real) in our schools with students who are not much different than they are today. The major difference is that the passion they feel for teaching will ensure success for the students they will teach.
If I had to rewrite my personal philosophy today, it would come down to two quotes. One is the quote I have used for several years, “Every student in every classroom, without exceptions, without excuses.” The second is a quote from James Baldwin, “For these are our children, we will profit by or pay for whatever they become.”
A special thank you goes out to the staff at the T.E.A.C.H. Academy and Jill Pendleton, the principal at Clark High School. You are not only preparing our students for the future, you are preparing the teachers for our future students.