Why I Teach

A Chorus of Reasons Why We Teach

“Under these conditions, why would teachers teach? Here are some of our reasons.” The dedicated teachers and staff at a Jackson, Mississippi, elementary school share what keeps them committed to teaching.
Photographs by Vanessa Charlot

An episode of ABC’s Nightline shined a national spotlight on the water challenges we face daily at Wilkins Elementary School in Jackson, Mississippi. In addition to ongoing water issues that make the school’s water dangerous to drink, we’ve used portable restrooms outside of our building where teachers have had to fight off stray dogs to keep students safe. Under these conditions, why would teachers teach? Here are some of our reasons. 

“This school has my entire heart,” says Principal Cheryl Brown. “The students are hardworking and eager to learn, and the teachers are dedicated. I am passionate about students becoming lifelong learners. We go above and beyond every single day for our students.” Principal Brown meets and greets Wilkins students each morning, encouraging them to be great and—despite the end of the mandate—to wear their masks to keep them safe. 

“I teach because teaching gives me the opportunity to positively influence, inspire and educate our future,” explains fourth grade teacher Ammie Stewart. “I want students to know that they can truly excel. Teaching goes far beyond knowledge, and my students get to experience that in my classroom. Relationships are built that create opportunities for lifelong learning. I have been truly blessed in continuously helping students understand that they can make a positive impact on the world.” 

“Parents send us their children with the expectation for them to grow and learn,” observes school interventionist Dona Brown. “Often this is not just academically. Our students have social, emotional and behavioral needs as well. I teach because our students deserve a chance to be whatever they desire to be, given the opportunity with a quality education.”

“All scholars can learn no matter their disability,” Twana Freeman-Mallard, Ed.D., school interventionist, says. “Seeing children with different disabilities learn brings joy to my face. You must love children and cultivate their minds to prepare them for the future.” 

“I teach simply because I love building relationships and making a difference in the lives of my scholars,” remarks third grade teacher Danielle Dixon. “When I see the lightbulb come on, it lets me know that what I am doing is not in vain. I teach my students that we are a family and to always show love to each other. I teach to help make a difference in our future.”

Photograph of masked children in a classroom working on a project.

“The number one reason why I teach is simple,” says first grade teacher Tekita Franklin. “I love children! Even as a child myself, I was the neighborhood babysitter. I knew my profession was going to be associated with children. I want to be a part of the upcoming generation and help them to be the best person they can. They deserve a positive and successful education. This is only my first year, but I am looking forward to all the years to follow.” 

“When I was a small child, my mom taught me the importance of an education,” fifth grade teacher Nicole Kelly remembers. “She would teach us about everything and made the teaching and learning process fun and engaging. With my mom doing that, I decided in second grade that I wanted to be a teacher. I want children to enjoy learning and take their knowledge and apply it to the real world.”

“Each day in the classroom is an opportunity to mold the hearts and minds of scholars to become productive citizens who care about others, take stands for justice and are lifelong lovers of literacy,” says third grade teacher Kerri Harrion. “Teaching is not only my passion but my calling.” 

“It is no kept secret that educators are the lowest-paid profession,” notes music teacher Regan Jackson. “There is a deep need for dedicated educators to reach, teach, motivate, challenge and cultivate the total child. I teach music because it allows me the opportunity to reach my scholars on a level that promotes students expressing themselves. I also love seeing the smiles on the faces of my students.”

“I teach because I pledge to inspire growth in my students by giving them tools to take into other disciplines and into other domains of their lives,” second grade teacher Linda Porter says. “It is my belief that every student is capable of tasting the same passion that I feel for teaching by becoming collaborators in the exploration of learning.”

“I am a country girl from a small town called Edwards, Mississippi,” explains first grade teacher Tameka Richardson. “One of the reasons I chose to become a teacher was to contribute to my community in a meaningful way. Teaching is one of the most direct ways to make an impact and encourage those students who need a little more support. I was once that student. Thanks to my elementary teachers at Edwards Attendance Center, I made it!”

“Teaching Our Future”

By Ammie Stewart

I am serious, because serious I am,

Teaching my future, your future, our future

Isn’t about glitz or glam.

It’s what I choose to do, sometimes with little rest,

Because my future, your future, our future

Deserves only my best.

About the Author

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