Why Teachers Teach


Mr. Grooms, my World History teacher in 10th grade,” answers Kevin Shertzer when asked who his favorite teacher in high school was. “He told the most amazing stories and seemed to know everything about everything; he was brilliant.”
Eric Faust’s favorite teacher was “Mrs. Perez.” For Richard Nathan, it was “Mr. Crump.” And for Bojana Hill, it was “Ms. Terzic.”
All teachers, all the Grooms, Terzics, Perezes, and Crumps of the world have the power to inspire. They have the ability to encourage, challenge, and educate their students. We see them everyday at school. We write them essays. We listen to their lectures. We study for their quizzes. Yet as we sit at our desks, watching our teachers, we rarely stop to question: why do they teach?
For many teachers, the reason is the environment. In a scholastic community, students aren’t the only ones doing the learning. “As I continue to teach, I continue to learn,” says Bojana Hill. “Teaching remains an intellectual challenge.” High school teachers work everyday with teenagers ages 15-18. This mix of under and upperclassmen makes for a youthful atmosphere.
“In essence, teaching helps keep me young,” laughs Richard Nathan. “Working with younger people and their enthusiasm for learning is a wonderful thing.”
Students are curious –– a teacher’s job is to feed that curiosity and to answer the questions that are asked. “We are naturally inquisitive creatures,” comments Shertzer. “Being successful at awakening curiosity in students is the best part of teaching.” Mr. Grooms had the power to inspire a 16-year-old Kevin Shertzer. For Eric Faust, his inspiration came from a professor in college: “My professor always said I was destined to end up in academia,” says Faust. “This is one of the only institutions with the sole objective of improving and developing human ability –– I am happy knowing that my life is dedicated to something of such value.”
Bojana Hill was also greatly influenced by a past professor. “Shortly after I emigrated to the US, I took an evening class in American Literature at a community college,” she says. “I recognized myself in the professor and was super-energized by the discovery.” Hill was able to see herself as a teacher, in a teacher –– an insight that wouldn’t have occurred had she not taken the professor’s class.
Educators hold the power to awaken unknown passions in their students; a power that is one of the main reasons why teachers teach. While Hill and Faust were both greatly influenced by teachers at the university level, Maud Maillard remembers her middle school mentor: “I had an incredible 5th grade teacher who knew how to pull the best out of his students. He always pushed me to reach my goals,” she recalls. “His mentoring gave me confidence to accomplish what I needed to do.”
Maillard’s 5th grade teacher both challenged and supported her in the classroom, similar to what a coach would do with his players. “I didn’t have a favorite teacher in highschool,” says Charles Donelan. “The mentors I was closest to in high school were all coaches. I played varsity and club tennis, and my club tennis coach had a big influence on me.” So no matter where a teacher teaches, whether it be on a court or in a 5th grade classroom, the educator has the ability to inspire.
But why do people chose to start teaching? I return to my original question, the title of this article: why do teachers teach? Is it because of the summer vacations? The donuts in the faculty room? No. While donuts and summers off are nice, working in the field of education is much more than that. “I teach because every day brings about a new challenge and a new demand for intelligent, insightful, and empathetic people,” says Faust. “No matter how smart you are, there’s always more to learn,” says Nathan. “I think teachers have a great opportunity to learn from students.”
Great teachers teach because they know they can unlock student potential and help students succeed. They can work in youthful, intelligent, ever-changing environments, and at the same time, inspire the future. To be a teacher is a special calling. And who know’s, maybe you’ll decide to be one someday too.