This year I had the opportunity to return home. Home isn’t a place where I grew up – that would include upstate New York, Boston, and the northwest side of Houston. No, home is the place where I began my teaching career – Royal High School. From the first day I stepped on campus oh so many years ago, I found a home. I was surrounded by wonderful students, great coworkers, and outstanding administrators and staff. Those five years were just what a first-year teacher needed. As I return to the place where it all started, I find myself faced with the same situation and I couldn’t be happier.
Sure, not every day is knock-your-socks-off, but seriously, who can say that? It is those days with struggles that help us develop and grow as educators. When before you were worried about notes passed around the classroom, now you are worried about messages sent via technology and immediate chat conversations via mail. And, twenty years from now, it may be a different mode, but the issues will be the same. So, it is my job as an educator to learn, adapt, and engage my learners, to help them be the future leaders of our community.
When I stand at my classroom door in between classes and greet my students, I don’t do it just because… I do it so that I can make face-to-face contact with my students. So that I can show them a friendly face and smile, so that I can see and meet my neighbors. Ultimately, the students of Royal High School are just that – they are my neighbors. They are the future of my community. They have so much potential and I want to help them realize that they do and that they can unlock it and achieve their dreams.
So, when you ask me why do I teach at Royal, what I want to ask is: Why wouldn’t I want to teach at Royal? By not being here, I would miss the stories, the community, and sense of Falcon Pride that exists. I would miss the sound of the cheerleaders cheering, the roar of the band, and the blow of the whistle for the next game to start so that I can support our students in each adventure they go on. I would miss the pride in which the students talk about their time in Ag, the excitement about cosmetology class, and the pride of JROTC. Most importantly, if I wasn’t at Royal, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to teach our students, to open their minds to new ideas, to make them think deeply about literature or question an author’s purpose, or to listen to their thoughts, hopes, and dreams. Because when someplace feels like home, it makes every day worth getting up in the morning, every late night spent on campus valuable, and every moment spent with your students a time of pure joy.
So actually, I am at Royal because Royal and my students make me a better educator.