Why am I grateful to be a teacher? Of course, I am most thankful for my students. It is an absolute privilege to teach today’s youth. Even after dealing with some very difficult situations during my career, teaching has brought me much satisfaction and joy. Yes, joy. How can one spend 900 hours a year with kids and not experience joy? My “kids” are family to me, and I treat them as such. We laugh a lot, sometimes hysterically, but we also work very hard. Do they sometimes drive me insane? Absolutely! That is the nature of the beast. We start with a clean slate each day and put the past behind us. There is also something really special about a school: the sounds, the smells (not the ones after gym class), the busyness of the day, and the rare moments of silence after all the kids leave in the afternoon. Further, as a single mom for the past 17 years, teaching has provided me with an income to where my children and I have never done without the things we need. Lastly, I am thankful for the benefits: weekends and summers off, health insurance, and of course, SNOW DAYS! I am grateful to be a teacher.
Almost 18 years later, the title of “teacher” still sometimes takes me by surprise. I’ve wondered at times what I ever did before becoming an educator. For one thing, I never planned on going to college, much less have a career. I married and had two beautiful sons by the age of 30 and was fortunate to get to stay home with them until they started school. At 31, I felt the pull to go to college and become a nurse because I wanted to make a difference in others’ lives. So, I started classes in the evenings at my local community college. Two weeks in, I knew I was supposed to be a teacher, so I changed my major. I acquired my last degree in 2011. Almost 18 years have passed, and I still look forward to going to work each day. I am grateful to be a teacher.
I wish I had written down all the things students have said or done over the years that have blessed my life. There have been many. One thing a female student did two years ago was make me a bracelet from beads. This little girl did not have anything, not even a winter coat, but she took the little she had and made this bracelet; she blessed my life. It remains on my desk. It always will. I am grateful to be a teacher.
Somehow, some way, everything flows together during the school day, and we move on to the next. What teachers and students alike accomplish each day is an amazing feat. I honestly cannot imagine doing anything else. I thank God often for opening this door for me. I am a teacher, and I will be forever grateful.
— Penny Sutton
Teacher at Sevierville Middle School
Board Member of Professional Educators of Tennessee