|Profession||Charter School Teacher|
|Work Benefits||Full, dental, eye, health|
|Current Location||Oakland, CA|
1. How did you get to where you are today?
I went to college and did lots of internships in social justice. A recruiter from Teach for America convinced me that the best way to impact social justice was to be a teacher. I applied and got it in the 1st round. I did student teaching and credentialing through Teach for America in the Oakland Unified district. Then I switched to Aspire Public Schools, which are charter schools.
I paid for school with loans, grants and parents. I have student loan debt now.
2. What do you do at your job? What does your daily routine look like?
I teach 8th grade at a middle school. I work 7 am - 7 pm every day, and then I prep for the next day. I write lesson plans, coach curriculum, and build relationships with my students. I serve as an advisor and mentor to certain students.
3. As a child or a teenager, what did you want to be when you grew up? What is your ultimate career goal now, and do you think that’s realistic?
I wanted to be a lawyer. Growing up, I was a Republican. I wanted to make a lot of money and be successful. Then I went to a liberal arts college. I turned liberal and began caring about social justice.
4. What would you say your general political leanings are? Not party affiliation, per se, but your stance on work-related issues like social security, overseas manufacturing, and unions.
I’m progressive and liberal across the board. I support unions.
5. How have the past four years of economic instability affected your career?
I think that a huge reason I took Teach for America is that the economy was bad; there were no jobs unless it was through a program like TFA. I wasn’t going to pass that up. If it weren’t for the recession, there would have been a huge possibility that I wouldn’t have applied (to Teach for America) at all.
6. What worries you most about your job? What worries you most about your life outside of work.
It’s not sustainable – the amount of work, mentally, physically, emotionally. It’s too much work.
7. Are you in a union? Does your industry have unions? Do you think your industry should unionize?
No union, because I’m at a charter school. I understand why they don’t have a union.
8. What is your proudest career accomplishment?
Those moments when I had kids who have struggled and were behaviorally off-task, and I was able to make a difference with them. A student named Chris wasn’t focused and wasn't getting his work done. I tried to build a relationship with him, but he pushed me away. But by the end of the year we got to the point where we were getting along, and he understood what was wrong with his behavior. He took the state exams and said they were easy. He said he had been paying attention to me. I’ll never forget that.
9. If you could change one thing about your job, what would it be? (More flexible hours, better benefits, higher salary, better job security, pension plan, etc)
There should be smaller class sizes and more teachers per student. We should have classes of 15 students, maximum.
10. What would you like America to know about you and people like you?
Teachers really do care, but it is the system we work in that creates problems in how we teach children. The system needs to be fixed, not the teachers.
–By Hunter Holcombe / current.com