I am a teacher born and bred, and I believe in the advocacy of teachers. It's a calling. We want our students to feel impassioned and empowered.
I have learned that, although I am a good teacher, I am a much better student, and I was blessed to learn valuable lessons from my students on a daily basis. They taught me the importance of teaching to a student - and not to a test.
I realized if you can change a classroom, you can change a community, and if you change enough communities you can change the world.
Hoping they'd been inspired by the examples of Anne Frank and other teens who had turned negative experiences into something positive by writing about them, I handed out notebooks for my students to journal about their lives. There was some initial resistance. But then the stories poured out of them, full of anger and sadness.
Education is such a noble profession, it's a wonderful way to serve.
The stories my pupils told me were astonishing. One told how he had witnessed his cousin being shot in the back five times; another how his parents had died of AIDS. Another said that he'd probably been to more funerals than parties in his young life. For me - someone who had had an idyllic, happy childhood - this was staggering.