I honestly don’t know where to begin. After my experience Sunday at the Teacher Town Hall with Ann Curry, in a room full of people who are educating the future citizens of our country, I am humbled and hopeful. I’m also scared, nervous and uneducated.
I mean really. Really. Uneducated.
Let me start by telling you a little about myself. I was born and raised in a small southern Illinois town of about 4,000 people. There was one elementary school, one middle school and one high school, with a graduating class of about 150 students.
And, I can not tell a lie, I wasn’t a very smart kid. I didn’t apply myself very well, but I also had absolutely no idea how blessed I was to get the education and have the life that I had. Now mind you, I did go on to be the first in my family to graduate from college. Yes, by the skin of my teeth.
But I was heartbroken after hearing the stories on Sunday about what some of these kids have to go through on a daily basis. The odds are stacked against them before they even walk in the school door.
Four years ago, I moved to Philadelphia, a few months after my husband and I got married. We were in the radio business, which allowed me to see firsthand how hard Philadelphia students and teachers have it. I worked with an intern who lived in a bad part of town but had a dream of “being somebody” someday. He was a great kid with big dreams and a soft heart. In fact, he reminded me of myself a bit. The day I graduated from high school, I swore up and down, “I’m going to be somebody.”
How humbled do I feel now after this Teacher Town Hall discussion?
I was just some dorky radio personality who pushed buttons and talked about who had won the MTV awards or Britney Spears shaving her head. My button-pushing doesn’t compare to the daily grind these teachers endure. Not even close to that poor kid who loves being at school because he doesn’t feel safe at home.
The discussion made me think of a Dr. Phil show I was once on to talk about Michael Vick’s return to professional football. Everyone had their stance either for or against his return. As the resident “mom,” I was against it. What mattered to me was what his actions taught children and the fact that parents now have the added pressure of teaching their kids that what he did was wrong.
But what about those kids without a parent to teach them right or wrong?
And that goes hand-in-hand with the biggest point I gathered from this event: It is very important for parents to be engaged and involved in education. Life at home reflects on life at school.
So what can I do to help the future of nation’s education?
Listen to my son when he needs help. Be there for him. Teach him the difference between right and wrong. And when he asks me what the anti-derivative of a function is? Find an expert – a teacher – who knows the answer. ‘Cause my little old theatre degree is just not gonna cut it.
All statements and opinions expressed on this blog are those of the individual contributors, and not of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation or NBC News.