As a college freshman deciding what to do with the rest of my life, I remember asking my parents how they made their decisions. I had seen the difference they made in people’s lives and knew I wanted to make a similar impact, but I wanted to know what was it that drew them specifically to their paths. I asked, why do you do what you do?
Mom’s been an educator for nearly 40 years, teaching every age group from Pre-K to 12. Additionally, she teaches music and performing arts to community students for fun. Dad is a cattleman and agriculturalist, sitting on the fair board and working with county students about the health and sustainability of farming, how communities survive based on the actions a rural, suburban, or urban environment have. Many of the programs they work with don’t have much funding and they end up spending their own money to help sustain the programs.
I come from a large family; it’s not like we couldn’t have used the money, but that didn’t matter, said my parents. “Did you have enough? Did you ever worry about having something you needed to be successful?” I said no, and then Mom looked at me and said what I already knew, but at 18, wasn’t wanting to be self-sacrificing enough to look at head on, “Some kids don’t. We do what we do because it’s important to share what you have so that everyone can receive a quality chance at succeeding too”.
Over the last ten years and especially last week at our annual conference, I saw many people who share this mentality. People who educate for a living are a special breed. It’s not that they’re idealists; in fact, there’s a very healthy dose of realism that surrounds people who know for a fact what they’ve chosen to do for a living is a political football, one that’s leaking the air (money) their programs need to survive. But they continue to do it, on their own time and with their own money, so that they can continue to be and help their students be successful.
My favorite takeaway from a volunteer presenter:
“The opportunity to get together with 10,000 of my best friends: like-minded educators bent on changing the world, one classroom, school, student, or district at a time”
This is why we do this… Who wouldn’t want to hang out with people who want to change the world?