I am starting to post my essays that I wrote for my teacher of the year application. The next is the voice of the teacher.

For our society, education is how we create a workforce that will sustain our current way of life and expand it to ensure that we have a future. I have had this conversation with a number of people lately. Working with students with special needs for the past 7 years I have had to support students and their families in understanding what their educational future will look like. For so long we have pushed a 4-year university degree as the only path to success in a child’s future. For my students and families, I show them the other paths and what they can do to meet their career goals. And that is the power of education. No one educational path is right for every student and their family.

For our students, education is helping them explore careers that they find interesting, while learning the basics that will need to be productive members of our society. As educators, our role is not to tell a student, “No, you should not do that, do this.” Instead educators should show students what is involved in a career and what they need to learn to meet that goal. But more important, educators are advocates for our students and their families, and supporting them in navigating the tough choices they will need make in meeting those educational goals.

For our communities, education is a never-ending journey. As humans, from the moment we leave our mother’s wombs, we are experiencing and LEARNING about the world around us. We are constantly learning, and as educators one of our roles is to support our students in understanding the learning they are experiencing. Moreover, it is important that we stress that not all learning is factual. For educators, this means helping our students, not just listen to what is going on in the world around them and accepting it as truth, but researching the information and coming to their own conclusions.

For other educators, education is our passion. Education is not just how we make a living, but how we make a difference in the communities we live in. Education is not a right given to us as a United States citizen. And for over half our country, education is not a right given to the citizens of a state. Yet, for educators, that does not stop us. Many educators see that education has given us the power to change the futures of the students we work with and our own futures as well.

When educators, communities, students, and our society see that education is a dominant force that drives not just who we are now, but what we all will become, everyone starts to see the true power that education holds.

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