May 16th 2018 North Carolina teachers rallied together to make sure our legislators were listening. While some closed their doors hoping we would go away, others opened their doors to hear what we had to say. Many said this was just to line the pockets of greedy teachers. Others have said this was an effort of left wing politics, some said the NCAE was completely responsible. I even heard one say it was about wearing blue jeans on Fridays.
The truth is, teachers have been reaching out to each other in specialty groups as a means of support since the dawn of Facebook. Teachers may join a grade level specific group to get ideas for lesson planning, strategies for improving reading, ideas for summer work to extend a paycheck, and yes…even post a story about the joys our students bring us daily in our classrooms. Teachers have been rallying around each other via social media for over ten years. The discrepancies in education are nationwide. Teachers decided to rally to support each other. This was not about right or left. It was about right and wrong. For me, it was about best friends. Best friends that are democrat and republican riding in a car together, sharing stories about our kids growing up, us not having enough time in our lives to catch up, and teaching tales from two different districts that mirrored stories of divide. May 16th was beyond blue jeans. It was beyond higher pay. It was even beyond the working conditions which we endure on a given day. May 16th was about children. It was about the education of our children being the great equalizer.
Education then, beyond all other devices of
human origin, is the great equalizer of the
conditions of men, the balance-wheel of the
social machinery. ~ Horace Mann
Growing up as a child of two public school servants, I was dragged in tow to help mom or dad with clerical jobs in the summer at their schools. I learned early on that education was more than a 9-5 job, it was a commitment beyond the hands of a clock. For the past twenty years, I have taken every opportunity to truly be a life long learner. Those learning opportunities build my capacity as teacher and that learning transfers to building the capacity of my students. But somehow over the course of those twenty years, teachers began asking me to share. I have done so freely and willingly. After all, my thought is if we aren’t here to help each other, what is our purpose?
My purpose will be different than blue jeans on Friday, though I don’t think that is a bad tradition! But our teachers need more than blue jeans to boost their morale. They need more than blue jeans on Fridays to support the hard work that they do. They need coaching and support. They need heart and soul. They need the right leaders. They need leaders that stand by them, that help them, that grow them. They need more than someone to “oversee” or “manage” them. You see the rally on May 16th was beyond blue jeans on Fridays. It was about teacher voice, it was about bringing back professional courtesy, it was about basic decency for students and teachers, it was about teachers that want more for their students, it was about teachers expressing what they see in the inequities that exist in public education. And May 1, 2019 North Carolina Teachers are organizing again.
5/1: Five issues, one day.
Here’s what we’re fighting for:
1. $15 minimum wage for all workers in schools, 5% raise for all workers in schools, including a 5% COLA for retirees.
2. Hire enough social workers, counselors, and nurses to meet national standards.
3. Expand Medicaid to cover more North Carolinian’s.
4. Reinstate retirement benefits for educators joining the profession after 2021.
5. Restore master’s advanced degree pay.
After some convincing (from a couple of very kind principals), I obtained my school admin license in hopes I would be able to lead a school of my own. And while that dream doesn’t seem to be moving along in a traditional path, I do foresee my ability to lead in other ways. So I am thankful for a “broken road” that is leading me to do something different.
I have had this idea for North Carolina Teacher Academy stirring in my soul for some time. I had bought the dot com, the dot org and even the dot u.s. a year ago. I had even gotten the paperwork to get my tax id and form an LLC which is moving towards a non-profit. Maybe my story is about moving beyond the routine, the typical. Maybe my story is about wanting more for my students, teacher voice, and moving beyond inequities. Maybe my story is beyond blue jeans. I have no idea how this dream will come together, except from the hearts of teachers like those two best friends. Two best friends walking blindly in the rain looking for their car, tired yet inspired, coming together for a reason beyond blue jeans.
North Carolina Teacher Academy is my “beyond blue jeans”. It is my way to share my gifts with teachers, which in turn I hope will be shared with children.
What will your “beyond blue jeans” in education be?
If you are a teacher wanting to share your gift through North Carolina Teacher Academy by becoming a teacher trainer, use the contact us form to express your interest and I will be in touch!