Veteran Teachers Need Support Too

In response to the Jan. 27 Point of View “ Excluding veteran teachers? Brilliant” by William Tolbert: Believe it or not, some veteran teachers stay because we are talented, competent, dedicated educators. We do not stay because we might get a bump in pay.

I agree that we need to retain young teachers. They are the future of public education. I have mentored and supervised university student teachers and beginning teachers for years. I do so because they bring new ideas and energy to the classroom and to our schools. I love learning with them, and they benefit tremendously from my experience, teaching skills and mastery of the craft I love.

The battle for teacher pay is not over. It may be for Tolbert because he quit. I, along with many of my veteran colleagues, have not stopped advocating fair compensation, more resources, better school facilities and respect for education. I am not “passively waiting for retirement.” I don’t need to wear red to write letters or make calls to elected officials. I am not myopic, and I continue to speak out on behalf of all educators. I believe in public educators of all ages and levels of experience.

I also spend quite a bit of my time and energy mentoring younger teachers and doing the work I love. I keep up with recent research and curriculums. I do not quit when the going gets tough.

Retaining young teachers who are passionate about teaching and show promise of excelling in their field is important. There are some veteran teachers who need to leave. However, I will never agree that treating people as if they do not matter is acceptable.

Tolbert should research the employment trends in our current generation of 20- to 35-year-olds. They change jobs and careers frequently, and they spend a lot of time going back to school. They quit. He seems to fall into that category himself.

I am asking individuals, groups, businesses and organizations to show they care by supporting a new project I am starting called “Adopt-A-Teacher.” All teachers need to know that others think their work is important. Teacher morale is low in North Carolina. Most teachers are not staying in the profession for a bump in pay, but being appreciated can go a long way.

Durham Public School teachers need to hear from the Durham community on a regular basis to know they are appreciated and respected. Once a month, send a note or a gift card or school supplies or treats to an adopted teacher to let him or her know that we care about teachers. That’s it.

This post originally appeared in the News & Observer in January 2015.

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