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Once Upon A Time We Were Heroes

by Shakera Reid-Stewart  
4/19/2008 / Education

It was once referred to as a noble profession. Those professionals were revered, applauded for their efforts, sought out for advise, and even a bit feared because of their strictness. They imparted knowledge, they nurtured, and they molded the minds and character of many. They were appreciated for what was generally thought of as a thankless job due to the meager financial compensation and the fact that the ones who they guided never truly realized until years down the line that they needed the guidance.

Centuries later, things have taken a turn for the worst. In order to be a top-notch educator in today's society you have to be able to balance many hats. You have to be a secretary to complete the insurmountable paperwork that comes with the job. Not just the run of the mill chore of grading papers, but the documentation that outlines every action that you have taken as a teacher because at the end of the day, your word alone is never good enough. You have to think like a lawyer because you have to be constantly covering yourself from actions being misunderstood, words being misquoted, and good intentions being manipulated. We have to be the counselor to the student with the overwhelming baggage that stems from the home environment, and the referee to those whose baggage turns into anger and violence. For some, you are considered to be a parent to fill the void in the absence of the parental unit. After all of this, you wear the hat of the teacher. Some educators teach in areas where they are cursed at, threatened, and assaulted by parents as well as students. What has this "profession" come to?

Unfortunately, a portion of the blame for our predicament is to be placed on unethical educators. The integrity of teachers has been questioned based upon news of molestation of students, unethical behavior in academic areas, unprofessional behavior, or misuse of power. There are those who have taken advantage of the position and caused us to be in the place that we are now. Despite all that has been portrayed in the media, we are not all the enemy. There are those of us who care and would love to make a difference in the lives of the students we encounter.

I say to the parents: "Be an advocate in your child's life and pray for discernment to know the good guys from the bad ones. Be involved in your child's academic life and communicate with the teachers. Question anything that is unclear or incorrect, but work with the teachers, and not against them. Don't enable your children, empower them and teach them responsibility."

I say to the students: "This is your life and your future. There are no perfect teachers, but they are there to help you. You may not always like them, but you need them. Education is key and you need to make it top priority. Allow your parents or counselors to deal with an issue where you feel that you are being mistreated, as opposed to being confrontational."

I say to the educators: "This truly is a noble profession and one that is essential for a brighter tomorrow. We need to make a difference and change the trend of education. Otherwise, we are destined to be a failing society. Maintain professional standards and adhere to the code of ethics. Don't give the public a reason to mistrust because once upon a time, we were heroes and some of us still want to be."

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Shakera Reid was born in Kingston, Jamaica and raised in Miramar, Florida. Her passion in life is counseling and educating youth. Hobbies include reading, writing and watching movies. Her hope is to encourage others through her writing and to help them in their Christian walk.

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