By Emily Tratar
When people are asked the question “what do you want to be when you grow up?” the answer is usually not to relive your high school days for the rest of your life as a teacher. Most people want to graduate after 16 years of school and never go back. Even though it might not seem like the most glamorous one, teaching is one of the most rewarding jobs a person can have.
Being a teacher keeps you mentally engaged.
“It keeps me sharp… you have to be on your toes in this profession, not only day in and day out in the classroom… but also with the content,” said Tom Demos, an English teacher at Batavia High School (BHS). “The fact that I teach a class, for example, like AP [language] where so much of it is based on rhetoric and language, you have to be an expert.”
By constantly having to learn and relearn the content, teachers stay mentally engaged with the material. This keeps it new, interesting, and ever-changing―something a desk job cannot offer.
Teaching is also an opportunity to connect with people on a deeper level. By connecting with the students, teachers can create bonds that last a long time.
A BHS English teacher, Elizabeth Murphy, recalls the relationships she’s made with students.
“I have a lot of students that go on vacations and bring me stuff because they’re thinking of me,” Murphy said. “[They say] ‘I saw this and I thought of you.’”
Murphy went on to explain how rewarding it is to be able to make such a deep connection with a student that they can remember and think of her even outside of school.
The extended breaks are also a bonus in the education field.
“The summers aren’t for the students. [They’re] for the teachers,” Demos said.
Teachers are able to have a better work-life balance than most jobs. Aside from institute days, teachers get as many breaks as the students. This allows teachers to be with their families more often. They do not have to worry about finding caregivers for their children over the breaks.
Joseph Franz, a social studies teacher at BHS, explained that even when he is working it’s not really “work”. Franz says he loves his job so planning for lessons and his time in the classroom is enjoyable.
Most people think that teaching is a low-paying job and the salary does not reflect the long hours put in.
“There are times where it really stinks [the hours],” said Chris Owen, BHS band director. “I think about my day [in sections]. Teaching ‘day one’ is 7:30 to 2:30. Then [I ask myself] do I have a night event today?… So that is a challenge especially as a father of two young boys.” Even though the hours are hard, Owen still believes that the job is worth it.
“I knew what I was getting into… this is part of the gig,” he said.
The salary, like any other job, is low as a teacher first enters the profession. But most work up to a comfortable living wage. Indicated by the Admin and Teacher Salary and Benefit Report for Batavia Illinois, the salary of a Batavia district teacher ranges from a $40,000 salary for a part-time job to about $140,000 at the principal level. Depending on the certifications and years of experience, the salary can vary within this range.
“It is long hours, but I’m very happy that I get the breaks that I do,” said Carolyn Smith, a BHS math teacher.
Teachers are also some of the most inspiring people in an individual’s life. When asked who was the most inspirational person in your life, besides your parents, people would say a teacher they’ve had.
Daniel Renz, a science teacher at BHS, talks about how he had “a couple of really good teachers in high school… that really pointed me in the right direction.”
Alexander Benters, a math teacher at BHS, also elaborates on how teachers can inspire.
“In high school, I had a teacher who just had a bunch of energy and meant a lot to me,” Benters said. “He taught me a lot about, not necessarily content, but just how to be a good human being. And I [said] ‘I want to… maybe give some of those lessons to other people.’ ”
Even though the hours are long and the salary can be low in the beginning, being able to connect with people and have an extended amount of vacation days make the job worth it. The constantly changing environment also keeps the job challenging and fresh. But most importantly, whether you want to go into the medical field, the education field or the entrepreneurial field, teachers can inspire and ignite your passions and guide you to pursue them.