How the Other Half Lives
by: Shelly Reathaford, Science Teacher
As I closed out the first week of school, I logged onto Facebook feeling great. It was the weekend, I received a pay raise (that I didn’t have to beg, strike, march, or quite frankly, ask for), my class sizes are easily manageable, and my classroom is fully stocked for the new year. As I was scrolling through my feed, I came across a post from a former colleague where he mentioned he would greet 102 students on Monday. I couldn’t believe what I had just read. ONE HUNDRED AND TWO STUDENTS? In three classes? You’ve got to be joking. As I posted my own comment, I couldn’t help but reflect on the degree that my own life as an educator has changed by simply moving to a new state.
I remember when I announced I would be moving to South Carolina. Many of my dearest friends had smiles plastered on their faces and deep concern in their eyes. Why would anyone leave North Carolina Public Schools for South Carolina Public Schools? The state of education had to be worse, right? I have to admit I, too, was a little concerned but it only took one month for me to see that I was going to be so much better off, both personally and professionally.
Starting with money (because whether we want to admit it or not it really does make the world go ‘round) the set-up is much better for me. I make enough to meet my needs. I get paid twice per month, twelve months per year. I am coming off the best summer of my professional life as I didn’t have to work two jobs to keep afloat (because let’s admit part-time gigs do not make ends meet when you’re running a household). In fact, I didn’t work at all. I truly took the time to recharge and refresh. I’m confident my kids will thank me for this as we continue through the year and I can definitely tell a difference in my attitude and outlook as I return to the daily grind.
Professionally, I have seen the many ways in which I am more supported as a SC educator. As a science teacher, I used to spend a lot of money on my own lab supplies and I no longer spend anything; the district provides us with everything we need. I used to spend countless hours working at home, researching content due to having outdated books, and writing intricate test questions that would scaffold depth of knowledge to ensure content mastery. While working at home does go hand-in-hand with teaching, my new district provides updated textbooks and test question banks, so I am more efficient at home. I am also provided with curriculum maps that are updated annually; they provide accessible resources aligned with state standards and the supplies / activities we have available in our classrooms. While I never thought I’d admit to this, I am now a huge fan of technology in the classroom, as students and teachers are provided with devices that truly engage our students and prepare them as 21st century learners.
Taking all of this into account, it is imperative that NC educators continue fighting the good fight. Stand up, stand tall, and make your voices heard!