WH Students Take on Ups and Downs of Teaching

WH+Students+Take+on+Ups+and+Downs+of+Teaching

Bailey Asbury, Staff Reporter

As students are perhaps most familiar with a public school setting, one might suspect that many would find an interest in the teaching profession. However, in a poll of Warren Hills students, only 12.3% have decided to pursue such a career.

On Dec. 1, The Streak conducted a poll of 57 students across grades 9-12, asking students if “1) I have not thought about teaching; 2) I do not want to be a teacher; 3) I would consider teaching later in life; 4) I would seriously consider teaching as a primary career; or 5) I plan to become a teacher.” 

About 10.5% answered that they had not thought about teaching, while a whopping 40.4% said they did not want to pursue that path, a fascinating outcome considering some long-time teachers’ own thoughts.

English and American History Teacher, Jesse O’Neill, has been teaching for 20 years, and harbors complicated views on his profession. 

“I believe in public education and I think it plays an essential role in making our society livable,” he said. “Despite that, I am reluctant to recommend the field of teaching to young people.”

Traditionally, about 50% of teachers leave their jobs within the first five years, and the recent COVID-19 pandemic made this statistic no less staggering. 

According to the National Education Association (NEA), which is the country’s largest teachers’ union, there was a net loss of 600,000 educators from January 2020 to February 2022 out of an original 10.6 million, and another 55% have considered leaving because of the pandemic.

The shortage has not affected only those who quit; the NEA also reports that 80% of teachers said that they have had to fill in for their missing colleagues and take on a greater workload than before.

Despite these struggles, teachers continue to find ways to enjoy their work. 

“Once in a while, I get a note from a student that lets me know that something I did made a difference for them,” O’Neill said. “Those sorts of things, along with the many kind, thoughtful people I interact with each day, keep me going.”

“Being a teacher is tough and exhausting,” said Computer Science Teacher and 2022 Warren County Teacher of the Year Daryl Detrick, “but it can also be very rewarding.”

Warren Hills students must be aware of these upsides to teaching, as 5.3% answered that they would seriously consider teaching as a primary career and 31.6% said that they would consider teaching later in life.

Detrick is a perfect example to look to if students are considering the latter, having spent his first two years of life after college as an engineer for Turner Construction before his 28-years-and-counting teaching career. 

Senior Giovanni Bucca has exactly the same thoughts, saying teaching “is what allows everyone in the world to have bright futures,” but he too has complex views of the job. “I wouldn’t become a teacher because it’s too regimented for students and it doesn’t allow for individual growth,” he said.

Additionally, some teachers had changes of plans in their careers after realizing their true strengths.

“My original plan was to work in advertising … but my lack of ‘hands-on’ experiences … led me to consider other options of employment,” English and Peer Leadership Teacher, Penny Giamoni, said.

The 12.3% of students dedicated to teaching are already taking steps toward prosperous careers. Junior Amelia Albrecht attended the Centenary University Future Educators Trip on Oct. 28 to learn from New Jersey Teachers of the Year, including Detrick, about the ups and downs of being a teacher and the various ways to approach the profession.

“I love helping others,” Albrecht said, “and I have had many teachers who have helped and influenced me.”

Teachers reciprocate this appreciation, making for a promising, albeit draining, beginning for future educators.

“The best part about teaching is my students,” said Detrick. “I love to see them learn and to see the success they have beyond Warren Hills.”