CHERYL D. SCALES: Teaching offers an opportunity, challenge and responsibility

What is teaching like today? Who should do it? Who shouldn't? And if I had it to do all over again, would I still become a teacher?”

I am a former teacher who is now a central office administrator with the Lee County School District. My administrative tasks are extremely rewarding, and include coordinating the middle/secondary curriculum and the new teacher mentoring program entitled B.E.S.T., an acronym for Beginning Educators Support and Training.

As a classroom teacher for 20 years, I had an opportunity to touch the lives of many young people. I'm truly thankful for that opportunity, and if I had it to do over again, I would still become a teacher. Even though I have made a slight career change from teacher to administrator, I still have the opportunity, the challenge and the responsibility to ensure high-level success for all students in the Lee County School District.

Teaching school is a challenge. In addition to teaching the curriculum to students, a teacher must be flexible, firm, compassionate and able to utilize a repertoire of teaching methods to meet the needs of all students. This means incorporating all the elements of a student's background and culture into the lessons taught throughout the school year, while preparing students to master the Mississippi Curriculum Test at the elementary and junior high levels and the Subject Area Testing Program at the high school level. Each child's learning style also must be taken into consideration.

Teaching school is also a responsibility. If a person is looking for a job “with no strings attached,” teaching is definitely not the answer. However, if someone is looking for a lifelong commitment to helping, nurturing, tending and growing children, then teaching might be that particular person's niche.

I started my profession with zeal and an attitude of optimism. After many years, much has changed. Society has changed, children behave somewhat differently from the way they behaved when I first started teaching, the curriculum has changed, and so have the state and federal requirements. Public opinion of education has changed. Attitudes toward teachers have justifiably changed.

However, my zeal and attitude of optimism toward teaching have survived. I still love to teach, work with beginning teachers, help plan professional development for teachers, and all of the other tasks involved in the field of education.

If a person wants to give back to society, consider teaching. The profession needs young, vibrant, dedicated people to assume the roles of master educators who will be retiring in droves over the next decade. Grading papers at times may be dull, the hours may be long, and the pay may be only sufficient – not necessarily the greatest. However, when teachers put their feet up on a Friday evening and reflect on the week, they will know that they have given everything they have – and more – to the future.

Always remember: “To Teach is to Touch Lives.”

Cheryl D. Scales is the middle/secondary curriculum coordinator for Lee County Schools.