been drastically different. I was fortunate to have parents, family, and teachers committed to my education, constantly telling me to “Work hard and go to college.”
I was convinced that my future depended on it. Upon graduation, I returned to my roots and once again called Flint home. Bright-eyed and fresh from college, ready to give back to students like me, I accepted a teaching position with the same district I attended. I loved my students and truly felt I was doing what I was meant to do. But as time went on, I became increasingly frustrated.
Many students didn’t have parents like mine, pushing for college, but that was out of my control. So who do these kids have to encourage them? To motivate them? To get them to college?
Teaching isn’t the end for me. I want to be a voice for students, teachers, and school systems. As I continue to evolve as an educator, I have discovered that the greatest gift I can give students and teachers is the high expectations I hold for them. I want to ensure that the teachers in my school bring great pedagogical skill and knowledge of their content to the classroom, but more importantly, dispositions of genuine care, concern and love for their students. I appreciate directly how important schools that are organized around High Expectations and a culture of “No Excuses” are.
I have seen the difference made in educational settings that integrate the family connection. We need to put the community back into schools. The more support centered around the success of our students, the better.
This is my ideology and my passion, and probably one shared by many teachers. But then who is left to look out for us--the teachers surviving on a minimum salary with student loan debt? There is all sorts of talk about incentives to become a teacher and Loan forgiveness. Apparently, that does not apply to my situation. I attended the University of Michigan from 1994 to 1999. Did you know that if you took out a loan BEFORE 1997, you don't qualify for loan forgiveness programs? Not even if ALL of your teaching has been done in Title I, Hard to Staff schools. I have been teaching for 14 years and still have student loans in excess of my yearly salary. I can't help but become frustrated. If I'd have pursued engineering like my high school counselor suggested or business, I may have been able to pay them back already.
It's heartbreaking to know that in order to maintain my Teaching Certificate, I need to continue earning credits. I took out another loan to help pay for my Masters Degree. I returned to Flint to teach--and the housing market crashed. I attempted to sell my home and was offered a short sale, but the mortgage company refused. When I began working in Flint, there were 31 elementary schools. Today there are 12. I was laid-off every year. I moved to Texas to teach.
I had a daughter that needed multiple surgeries as a child. She was born with a chromosome deletion called 22Q. She is amazing! We struggled. My income was too high for her to qualify for SSI and receive financial assistance. Too high? I fall into the too high to qualify and too low to succeed financial category every time. Is there any wonder why there is a teacher shortage? I've been too proud to ask for help or even admit needing it, but paying $490 a month and not having it paid off for another TEN years is horrific.
I am proud to be a Michigan Wolverine and am extremely fortunate to have received the education I did, but I need help paying for it. I have created a crowd-funding campaign and appreciate any and all assistance.