Learning From Books: Esperanza Rising

So, I am an intern in a 5th grade classroom. The class is currently reading Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan. I am not with the kids everyday, so sometimes I miss parts of the story, but I was fortunate enough to be in the class when they were discussing a very important quote.

“The rich take care of the rich and the poor take care of those who have less than they have.”

This quote really means a lot to me because my family falls somewhere in between. We struggled when I was little, and then we were better off for a while. Then the market crash happened and my dad was unemployed for the first time in my life and reality set in. It hit us hard and while we manage to make ends meet, we still have to be careful. I remember worrying about money while I was still in middle school and I think it has helped me to be more careful about spending money since then.

Something me, my sister, and my mom try to do when we can is to give to those who are even less fortunate than we are. One of our kinda rules is to try not to give people money, because who knows what they would spend it on. We would rather give them a meal or some other basic necessities. Sometimes this comes as a bag with snacks, water, and socks. Other times its a Lunchables and a cold Gatorade or a meal from a fast food place. We try to help whenever we can.

One thing that has been bugging me lately is that people are always saying how teachers don’t make a living wage. I want to be a teacher in a few years and it astonishes me that people, even some teachers I know, talk about how it’s a lot of work for not that great pay. I have seen an estimated wages chart for teachers in a district near me and the starting pay is about the same as what my mom is getting now.

The thing is, if my mom is making her salary work to support a family of four, then how is a teacher’s salary not enough to live off of? Teacher salaries increase the more time they spend in one district and can be around $60,000 a year if the teacher has stayed long enough. It astonishes me how that is not enough. Yes, money will be tight at times, but teachers can work nine to ten months out of the year, five days a week, with constant hours and make the same, if not more money than my mom. My mom works five days a week, with varying hours, 51 weeks a year and is barely making ends meet.

Maybe its because I’m still “young”, but I know that if my mom can support my family with her job, than a teachers salary would be plenty for me. Even when I start a family, I should be able to make it work.

I know that teaching is hard work because I’ve seen teachers that had been teaching for at least 20 years teach Transitional Kindergarten, 2nd grade, and now 5th grade. It’s hard work to teach one child, but to teach 20-32 students simultaneously is even harder. And then some kids struggle because of problems at home or learning problems or they’re just having a bad day and the teacher has to figure out ways to connect with these kids and help them to succeed in the classroom.

I want to help and teach and foster curiosity in the generations that are going to come after me. I want them to ask questions and learn how to find answers. I want them to find something that they just want to know more and more about. After all, that’s how I came to love school and learning.

I find it ironic and funny when I tell myself that “I love school so much that I am never going to leave”. It’s true though, for if my plan works out like it has been thus far, I’m going to graduate, get into the teaching credential program at the college I am currently attending, and go straight to being a teacher in the classroom.

Of course, this wasn’t always the plan. If you asked me four years ago what the plan would be, I would tell you I was going to go to college and get a degree that would allow me to do medical research. While I still have a love of science and medicine, I find child development and education and the learning process to be something that I am more passionate about. After all, my first real response to the “What do you want to be when you grow up?” question was “a teacher”. Everything seems to be working itself out.


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