By CHRIS GRAVES
I teach because I see kids who aren’t getting enough. Whether their education is limited due to restricted resources at school, family issues, or other circumstances, I know that I can help provide what they’re missing.
I grew up in a community where our basic needs were met, and I had all the opportunities possible to find success. After graduating from a college in a similar community, I immediately began working in a rough, poverty-stricken town. Seeing the challenges of drugs, gangs, and hunger that students face daily, I knew I could help. I have always made it my goal to provide the same opportunities for my students that I had and to use their unique strengths to push them toward achievement.
I know that I don’t have all the answers, but no one does. If someone did, then the education system in place would be perfect. Instead, I focus on what I can do to make a difference. When I first started teaching, music was my vehicle to reach students. As a band director, I shared my passion for the arts and tried to enhance the lives of my students through that medium. Now, I have a classroom that’s focused on at-risk students, where I can individualize my efforts to meet the specific needs of each student. No matter what my classroom looks like now or what it looked like when I first started, I’ve always kept in mind that I’m improving the lives of my students. Knowing that things are even just a little better for them because of what I did that day while they were in my classroom is enough to keep me going, day by day. That’s why I teach.