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Why Do You Teach? Watch Your Colleagues Answer in a New CEA Video

I teach because there’s no better feeling than watching a kid be confused and you say something — and there’s a spark of recognition.  There’s no better feeling in the world, hands down, than watching a kid get it, and love it.
-Pamela Santerre, Woodstock

Listen to what your colleagues have to say, and then leave a comment below and share why you teach.  All CEA members who comment on this post by Wednesday, January 27, at 4 p.m. will have a chance to win a $100 Target gift card.  Why do you teach?

  1. Thanks for the great comments and stories everyone! It’s so inspiring to read these.

    January 27, 2010
  2. Sherrie Horstmeyer #

    Teaching is my daily gift to myself. My gifts come wrapped in many ways; a child’s smile, a nod of understanding, a card hastily made from folded paper entitled ‘The Best Teacher Ever’, a half of a cookie, my name called out when I’m seen in the grocery store, a heartfelt ‘Thank You’ for helping in a time of need…My list is timeless and endless. In twenty-four years, I have never had a day go by without receiving a gift from a child….that’s why I teach.

    January 27, 2010
  3. Franco Dell'Olio #

    I often tell anyone who’ll listen that a bad day of teaching is still better than a good day in any other job I’ve had! No other profession is as rewarding. I am honored to be part of a profession where everyday students remind me of the importance of knowledge.

    January 27, 2010
  4. Debra Friedman #

    I love the challenge of teaching students new ways of thinking. It’s such a wonderful feeling when students have that A-ha moment and when I can see them growing as learners. For me, it’s important to know that when I go to work everyday, I am doing a job that matters, that can actually help change someone’s life for the better.

    January 27, 2010
  5. Meghan #

    This morning I received an email from a former student. He was my mentee in sixth grade. I poured my heart and soul into being there for him. I really felt like I was making a difference in his life. At the end of sixth grade, he did something terrible and we had a falling out. All this time I kept thinking about him, and hoping he was okay. Today, I opened my email and found an email from him. He wrote to appologize for the incident and to say that he was sorry then too but wasn’t brave enough to admit it. He said that he appreciates all that I did for him and wishes things could have been different. I broke down in tears. This is why I teach.

    January 27, 2010
  6. Sara T. #

    Teaching is one of the only noble professions left– walk into a room full of former students and you are instantly a Celebrity! What other profession gets that kind of response from their clients?

    January 27, 2010
  7. Elaine T #

    I teach because I love to learn. Learning along with children, discovering new things together, teaching each other and growing together is truely a gift. Teaching and learning nurtures the spirit. There is nothing better than the thrill of helping a child learn something new.

    January 26, 2010
  8. Christopher Dean #

    When I was in 4th grade I came home one day and explained what I had learned about the Greenhouse Effect to my little brother. My mother overheard and said, “That was great! You should become a teacher some day.”

    So I did.

    January 26, 2010
  9. Tricia Perrone #

    I teach high school math because I enjoy math. But more then that, I teach for the “ah ha” moments; the “do you have a min, I need to talk?” moments; the “hey, this isn’t so hard” moments; and the “well that means…” moments. These moments may seem few and far inbetween at times, but their memories outlast any stretch of time. It’s these moments that tell me I’ve reached a child who may not have otherwise been reached. I’ve shown them there can be a light at the end of the tunnel and that learning is an ongoing process. I teach becuase it’s these moments that I myself continue to learn from everyday.

    January 26, 2010
  10. Karen Radziewicz #

    Teaching has allowed me to touch the lives of many children. I teach because it is the most satisfying and rewarding career a person can have. I especially enjoy being a positive influence in the lives of my students and hope to inspire them to do & be their best.

    January 26, 2010
  11. Gordon LeVasseur #

    I don’t know why I teach. I just know that when I have worked in other fields I didn’t have the same sense of purpose or meaning. I can’t distill it or crystallize it, but I experience every day I enter the classroom.

    January 26, 2010
  12. Bernie Schreiber #


    Each night
    I regenerate
    the parts of me that
    nurture and feed,
    coax and guide,
    comfort and calm,
    laugh and cry,
    reach out and remind,
    organize and
    expand and diversify,
    celebrate and excite,
    spark and
    Each child
    demands it.

    January 26, 2010
  13. Carmella Kowalewski #

    I teach because it is the most satisfying and rewarding thing and I get to do it each and every day. I love the fact that I can spend my time with children who want to learn and who want to explore and who want to talk and gain insight into their world. They teach me new views daily by sharing who they are and what they think. I am amazed at their response to stories that I have read and never thought of in that way before. Their sharp eyes notice what I have overlooked. I am amazed at their kindness to each other and how they understand so much more than they are often given credit for. Teaching allows me to touch the lives of so many children by giving them a gift that can never be taken away from them. I teach them to read and to question and to think and to understand. What could be better than that?

    January 26, 2010
  14. Teaching has always been a passion of mine. Whether it was inspiring children on the sports field, reading to children at the library, or instilling life long learning skills in the classroom, I know this is the BEST career for me. Everyday is a new adventure, new challenge, and rewarding experience! I love what I do for young children and I love working with my collegues!

    January 26, 2010
  15. seizethespace #

    I teach art and I realize how important this is when a student looks at his work and says. “I never thought I could do this”. We give students a safe place to take chances with their talents.

    January 26, 2010
  16. Marty Barracato #

    I consider myself a teacher even though I educate in a different way. As a school social worker, I have an opportunity to make a difference. Working at the high school level, I have become a teacher, advocate, surrogate parent, and friend to many adolescents. Allowing a student to feel safe and comfortable allows them to learn better. I love the challenge that adolescents bring to the table and working in a high school is the only place I could ever see myself. When graduated students return to visit, I know I’ve made a difference. They are our future and need our nurturing before they make it in the “real world.”

    January 26, 2010
  17. Marlane Fitzgerald #

    As one of my teachers once said: “Teaching is like digging a mine. You never know what you will find.” It’s why I teach. I find treasure every time children make learning connections because of something I have said. Teachers and students go down into the mines together every day. We as teachers are the miners with the lamps. We provide the light to guide students along the way.

    January 26, 2010
  18. Amy Hillebrecht #

    Wow! Let’s see…my mother was a teacher and as a young person I loved correcting papers and meeting “her kids.” I excelled in mathematics at UCONN and developed a passion for ways to help and communicate with people who had disabilities. So, I became a special education teacher with a strong interest in expressing math to students every day! I love what I do and the middle school students who I am privileged to teach are creative and powerful. I enjoy encouraging young men and women to continue learning, to ask questions perpetually and to assist in the development of their passions!

    January 25, 2010
  19. I teach because I was given a chance to explore and become empowered while I was in high school, becuase I was shown how to grow, how to learn from my mistakes and ultimately how to shine. Now I spend each day working toward guiding high school students towards those same moments of discover, of adventure and fun with a purpose. I teach because they deserve the same chance.

    January 25, 2010
  20. Michael A. #

    It took me twenty-six years in the business world, but I finally made it to the classroom. I am in my seventh year of teaching and while it may sound a little patronizing, I can’t beleive I get paid to be part of the daily lives of Suffield’s middle school students. To share my love of math with the kids is certainly the basis for my teaching position, however, I feel my greatest satisfaction comes from having the opportunity to support, guide, and influence good character growth during these formative years. My role as a teacher is not limited to instruction, it is just the opening act.

    January 25, 2010
  21. Lloyd Stableford #

    What a thrill to have taught for social studies for 43 years, primarily in the middle school. Back in the mid-Sixties with the infamous words of John F. Kennedy ringing through my mind, I asked what I could do for my country. The answer was to teach. I chose to teach because there was a challenge to bring to life the historical world to kids, to bring an excitement and enthusiasm for learning, and ultimately, to encourage students to become the architect of their own education: to discover, to explore, to share their understandings.

    January 25, 2010
  22. Bernie Schreiber #

    As a teacher, I am a guide to learning. But it’s more than learning about academics. It’s learning about life, about getting along, about making good choices, and about making good after making bad choices. And although parents are their kids’ first teachers, I like building on whatever foundation they have established and trying every day to make a difference, even if it’s in one student’s life.

    January 25, 2010
  23. Each new class brings with it a unique group of students who individually and collectively inspire me to do my best as their teacher. There is little that is more rewarding than helping a child get that “ah-hah!” moment when the lightbulb goes on.

    January 25, 2010
  24. Richard J. Nigro #

    You would never expect to see 2 former students (Krista & Ruby) in a video like this. But that’s exactly why we all teach: because we never know where they will turn up. This is year 34 for me and I feel like I did when I started, although I may not have the same energy that I had then. That’s where the “new kids” will take over, carrying the torch that has been handed to them by us veterans!

    January 25, 2010
  25. Theresa Rode #

    The reason that I began teaching was because I wanted to work with children. I felt that I could help pave their road to understanding. I have continued because I feel that I have a knack for connecting with students. I want to make a difference in their lives. I want them to know that they are important in our lives too. They truely are our future. I want them to feel confident and strong in their knowledge. I also want them to be excited about learning too. It is exciting to learn new things. It’s fun to understand things for the first time but it is wonderful to build on those things and expand that knowledge and connect with additional concepts of the world. It is also important to connect with other people in society so there is a social aspect to learning also where we share our knowledge with others. I want to make that connection with my students just as I want them to make it with me.

    January 25, 2010
  26. Cathy Smith #

    I teach because I love to learn, find science fascinating and hope to be able to share that enthusiasm with my students.

    January 25, 2010
  27. Carol Cocores #

    I love being a special education teacher. I truly believe I can guide and lead students to find their inner strength and self confidence. There is nothing more rewarding than to see a student feel confidence in their ability to complete a task or to stick with a difficult project. I love to see a kid smile when you catch them doing something right or good, especially when you’ve been on them to make that change. There’s nothing more powerful in education than to see a kid feeling good about themselves and what they can do. That’s why I love education. It’s a powerful tool in that it can change lives and the future.

    January 25, 2010
  28. janice fields #

    I teach to inspire, be inspired, give, take, laugh and cry with my students. It is the best thing, the hardest thing and the worst thing I have ever done but everyday I thank my students for what they taught me and I hope one day they will thank (or at least remember) me for what I taught them.

    January 25, 2010
  29. anne shields #

    I care deeply about children and families.

    January 25, 2010
  30. I teach because I know that our future depends on making sure that these children get the best of what we have and what we know. I know each day that I work hard to give my students everything I can to help them to become successful learners and successful people.
    I teach because I love to help others, and my students look to me for guidance.
    I teach because my students keep me on my toes, and keep me looking for answers in order to help them in every way that I can. I teach because I like children – they’re fun!
    I teach because the positives in education out-weigh the negatives. When I have former students, grown up and heading off to college, come back and tell me that I made a difference in their lives ~ that’s why I teach!

    January 25, 2010
  31. Ali #

    I teach because I love my subject (Biology/Environmental Science), the interaction with the students, and the challenge of making a long lasting change in their behavior and thinking.
    I also love learning. Teaching allows me to choose from a wide variety of topics to learn and teach about. In the process, I have developed life time friendships with a wide spectrum of personalities that I watched develop during their high school years.

    January 25, 2010
  32. Lourdes Eckstein #

    It is very rewarding when students come back to visit and tell you how they have continued with Spanish and how your teaching inspired them to stick with Spanish. It is very rewarding and knowing you make a difference in someone’s future is very exciting and definitely something that gives you a feeling of accomplishment.

    January 25, 2010
  33. Tara Flaherty #

    I teach because there isn’t a profession like it that requires creativity, patience, and inginuity on a daily basis. Students come to a classroom with different experiences and skills and teachers are expected to help them learn and grown throughout their course. To me, there is nothing else I would rather do!

    January 25, 2010
  34. Fran Socha #

    I teach because I love children! There is nothing more rewarding than witnessing the excitement expressed by my students when they learn something new. Teaching is the most rewarding challenge in my life!

    January 25, 2010
  35. Rita Donovan #

    I love to teach struggling readers how to read. It is very rewarding when things begin to click and they look up at you and say, “I can read!”

    January 25, 2010
  36. Dalia S. Ghanesh-May #

    Everyone has a gift to offer the world. My gift to the world is teaching. It is truly a gift that keeps on giving. Since childhood, I knew that I would do something to help children to learn and grow. Children are the light of the world and our future. I want to help impact that future in an excellent way! I love kids!

    January 25, 2010
  37. Ray Lapinski #

    I teach because it gives me the ability to learn something from my own students each day.

    January 25, 2010
  38. Inara #

    I teach because I have the power to deliver information. I have the power to deliver information orally and through written espression to little “sponges” who soak it all up! I love to be a kid and stay young. Although I am a young teacher, I will always be appreciative of a young soul and a young mind that has the potential to be capable of anything they put their mind to. It is a gift that words cannot describe.

    January 25, 2010
  39. Tim Alstrum #

    I teach because I want to help children learn another language and realize the joy that comes from being able to communicate in another language other than their first language. Although I am certified to teach both elementary and secondary Spanish I have spent my entire career teaching at the elementary level. One of the greatest joys I ever had from teaching was attending the CT Council of Language Teachers’ Fall Conference about five years ago and having a young lady address me as Señor Alstrum. When I asked her who she was she told me her name and told me that she was a first year Spanish teacher at a CT high school. She went on to tell me that I was her very first Spanish teacher and that my efforts made her love Spanish as a child and inspired her to become a Spanish teacher.

    January 25, 2010
  40. Peter L. Egan #

    I teach Physical Education with the goal of exposing my students to as many physical activities as possible It is my hope that each student will find an activity they enjoy and will engage in that physical activity for the rest of their lives to promote their own personal wellness.

    January 25, 2010
  41. sheila johnson #

    I teach because a “bug” bit me in 1965 in a high school English class in Marietta, OH, and I was hooked for life. Teaching isn’t the only thing I’ve ever done, but like the Peace Corps, it’s the toughest job, I’ll ever love. I returned to the education field in the 1980’s when I only had to take a 10k pay cut to be there because everything else paled by comparison, and I am still there, though, I am 67 years old. I love the kids. They teach me something every day, and, hopefully, I teach them, too – about life, about reading, about writing.

    Have children changed since 1965 when I first walked into a classroom? You bet, but things are not worse, only different. My frustration is seldom, if ever, with my students, but the rules and paperwork that is being forced on teachers under NCLB does make my eyes cross.

    I tell people that teaching isn’t for everyone. I think of it as a vocation, rather than a job, but if you find it your calling, you will be rewarded in ways that are almost magical.

    January 25, 2010
  42. Maria Pelley #

    I teach because I love the way teaching is tuned into how the brain works. Initially I learned that children had ‘a window of opportunity’ to learn specific steps to do things, but now we know that if a child missed out on ‘their window of opportunity’ that we can still teach them, they can still learn. It doesn’t matter where they came from, teachers have an impact on where their students go in the world. I love seeing the look on their faces when they have the ‘a haaa’ moment, or get it after struggling. The best thing for me to see is when one child wants to help another child learn something and I hear, “Let me help you, this is how I learned it.” I love to see my students as teachers!

    January 25, 2010
  43. V. Hastings #

    I love kids! I love interacting with youth on a daily basis, connecting with them every day in a way that lets them know I care about them and their success in life. I love youth culture.

    January 25, 2010
  44. Mary-Lou Devine #

    I teach, in part, because when I was in school I had some very troubled times/family, and I was going to be one of those kids who fell through the cracks and maybe even quit school. My teachers (especially English teachers) kept me focused on learning. They taught me how to use my brain and gave me the power to overcome my life and become something more than who I was related to/lived with. I was the first in my family to go to college and get a “white-collar” profession–which wasn’t teaching at first–but I knew that someday I wanted to teach. These last six years of working with students–teaching them literature and writing, but also trying to teach them how knowledge and using our brains can empower us to be the best humans we can be–has been a life dream come true.

    January 25, 2010
  45. Here are two poems that, put together, perhaps say how I feel about the job of teaching. — Don Barkin

    A “Classroom Veteran”

    Being free fourth, he would fall asleep.
    But when they came in with their baby faces
    and Hollywood walks, his heart would leap
    and he’d watch them all the way to their places.

    Then scanning the room with his steady head,
    he’d spot a big boy’s awful yawn
    and imagine the warm, disheveled bed
    the boy should still be sprawling on.

    Teachers, policemen, and priests who drink
    all shuttle between heaven and hell
    until we’re worn to a nub, he’d think,
    and start listening for the blessed bell.

    The Taught

    For a long time he stood off scowling,
    a native surprised on his raw beach.
    We came ashore with a missionary’s
    cheerful gait, open-handed.
    He barely spoke, embarrassing our kindly
    chatter with his long brown looks.
    Well, we weren’t his first redeemers.
    He was unreliable, as natives will be;
    often late, his work half done.
    The rush we were always in oppressed him.
    He grew sullen and disappeared for days.
    — A simple clash of cultures, we supposed:
    ours, pious and efficient;
    his, preindustrial and proud.
    God was on our side, and guns.
    What gave us pause in bed at night
    was knowing we were bringing religion
    to the already religious. He was natively
    devout; his mind went barefoot
    up pathless slopes, like an ancient Greek’s.

    He had, we saw, a loner’s gift
    for silent watching and blunt comment.
    Once he put his face in mine:
    “I bet you get tired of your job sometimes.”
    I forget what I said. He stalked off, grinning.

    We assumed that he was lonely.

    Things got bad before they got better.
    We considered exile; our liberals prevailed.
    Then one day he simply turned up
    neat and on time. The look on his mug
    was, as ever, inscrutable.
    But he worked like a dervish and went home
    grinning and counting the coins in his palm.
    He came in time to be liked by many,
    and even somewhat understood.
    And we, abashed, and nearly convinced
    of our God’s benevolence, found
    we’d become more likable to ourselves.
    And remembered why we’d come to this place.

    January 25, 2010
  46. Kelly #

    I have had many great teachers in my life who never gave up on me, even when I had trouble understanding a concept. They were able to see me as a person past my difficulties and make me feel good about myself and keep learning even if it was hard. I want to be that teacher for my students everyday. I want to be their cheerleader and let them know that it isn’t always going to be easy, but they can never give up on themselves.

    January 25, 2010
  47. Anastacia Seuferling #

    I am a newly retired teacher 02/2010. Teachers are special to all the students.parents and staff. We have over the years made a difference. I get excited and loved learning how to teach using all the new technology.
    I have retired but will always remember how I enjoyed teaching! <3

    January 25, 2010

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