When I was in high school, I prayed that God would give me a husband who was anything but an engineer or a pastor. God gave me Patrick, an electrical engineer who was an elder at our previous church. Don't tell me God doesn't have a sense of humor.
When I had to quit working because of Chronic Migraine, Patrick enrolled in a program that would get him a teaching license in the course of less than two years. Initially, he started a business as a math tutor. After a couple of years, though, the school board administrator came to him and asked him if he would come to work at the high school as a math teacher. It was 2 weeks before the start of school and the school had just lost their calculus teacher. Patrick, being the brave soul that he is, took the job. In a coincidence, Christopher was also starting high school in his junior year, after being homeschooled his previous academic career. It was an interesting year for everyone!
Five years into teaching, and Patrick is now teaching math, engineering, and programming digital logic. Last year, he won the prestigious Kohl Teaching Fellowship here in Wisconsin. It's hard work and sometimes discouraging, but it seems clear that teaching is one of his God-given gifts.
He doesn't just teach, though. Given his comfort level with technology, he has been the "sound guy" at the high school since he started. They just did a big renovation of the high school, including building a performing arts center, so Patrick is very involved with the lights and sound in that facility.
Tonight was the second of three performances of the school play. Patrick has been at school for rehearsals for the last two weeks and then for the performances. Not only is he doing the sound, but he's teaching students how to do sound.
Patrick is up and out every morning by about 7am. Sometimes, he gets home around 4pm. If he does, he quite often goes back to school, either to finish up grading, or to do something with athletics or the arts. Patrick's not a coach, but he runs the clock or does other things for basketball, volleyball or football. He provides technical support for sports and arts activities.
People talk about teachers having great hours and getting summers off, but I don't think they see what most teachers actually do. Patrick gets one or two nights at home each week to be a normal person. The other nights he's up at school till 8 or 9pm. I generally don't mind too much. I have books and other things to keep me busy. Besides, after ten years of practicing medicine, who am I to complain about a busy schedule?
Beyond all the work hours, though, is Patrick's dedication to his students. When he is home, he is talking about his kids. OK, sometimes, he vents his frustration about them being teenagers. But, just as often, he's talking about how he's seeing improvement in their academic skills or in their emotional or social lives. Or, he's lamenting a student's poor social background and wondering how he can help in the classroom. This is why his peers think he's a good teacher. Sure, he can teach his students math and engineering. Mostly, though, he cares about his students. And they see that.
Yes, my husband works long hours and he certainly isn't paid commensurate with his education, hours, and dedication, but it's worth it. Patrick supported me for ten years when I was doing what God called me to do as a family physician. The least I can do is to support him in his calling as a teacher. His work is hard. I can see that he gets tired and discouraged, but I know that it's worth it in the long-term.
By the way, tell a teacher in your life that they are appreciated. And support giving teachers raises!