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Teaching - "As Sacred as Priesthood"
By Dorothy Small

What is teaching like today? Who should do it? And who shouldn't? This Education World series features essays on teaching by teachers as they answer the question, "If you had it to do all over again, would you still become a teacher?"

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I can sum it up in one quote from Pearl Buck: "Teaching is as sacred as priesthood. If one has not the concern for humanity, the love of living creatures, the vision of the priest and the artist, he must not teach."

I would definitely do it all over again! I dreamed of being a teacher when I was nine years old. As I write this, childhood memories of playing school with neighborhood kids flood my thoughts. The teaching profession is a calling. You must be able to manage high stress, and model good character for your students at the same time. You must believe in all of your students, especially the ones who are the most difficult to believe in. You will be the only positive role model in many of your students' lives. Believing in yourself and others, loving to learn, working hard, organizing, managing high stress, having a positive attitude, being able to reason with unreasonable parents, having a love for all living things, and having strong values and character are the qualities of a good teacher.

The most difficult aspect of teaching is the low income. My husband and I are both teachers. When we were married, some teachers told us that we would never have anything. They were both right and wrong.

They were right because we cannot afford to go out to eat; we cannot afford to go on vacation; we do not go to the movies; we do not go to music festivals while all of our friends are going; we sometimes have to borrow money just to buy groceries at the end of the month. We have only one child because we cannot afford more. The medical benefits in our school system are dwindling away each year, so many times we do not go to the doctor when we should because we do not have the money.

They also were wrong, though, because we get to "touch the future" (Christa McAuliffe) every day. We are loved unconditionally by most of our students, and we love our jobs. My students and I feel like a family. We cry together, we celebrate one another's successes. Children are so very special...all of the great teachers are teachers who feel it is their calling, because "It is through good education that all the good in the world arises" (Immanuel Kant).

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Dorothy Small

Dorothy Small graduated with honors from Lander University in Greenwood, South Carolina. She has been teaching fourth grade in North Carolina for nine years. Dottie is a candidate for National Board Certification and anxiously awaiting score results.

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