Why teach?

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Erin Ball, Kentucky’s 2020 Teacher of the Year
Erin Ball, Kentucky’s 2020 Teacher of the Year
Photo by Mike Young, Feb. 4, 2020

By Erin Ball
erin.ball@education.ky.gov

A lifelong love of reading and learning cultivated early in life by several impactful teachers helped me decide to become a teacher.

In 2nd grade, Mrs. Jackie Crabtree introduced me to a whole new world through books. Early on, she noted that I had an interest in reading and she encouraged that hobby in every way possible. She asked me about my preferred genres and favorite books. She checked up on what I was reading each week, offered book suggestions based on my interests and challenged me with higher-level books.

Inspired by Mrs. Crabtree’s influence in my life, I endeavor to instill and foster a love of reading in my 8th-graders. My school librarian once shared a poster with me that said, “Everyone is a reader … some just haven’t found their favorite book yet.” Many students come to me with little to no interest in reading. I strive from the first day of school to connect students with books that they love.

A longing to instill an intrinsic love of reading in young adults initially drew me to the profession. Helping to grow an intrinsic interest in reading in my students undoubtedly remains one of the most rewarding aspects of teaching.

Teaching is an honorable and rewarding career. It is a significant and worthwhile investment. Sitting in Kentucky classrooms right now are our future farmers, firefighters, senators, nurses, doctors, lawyers, caretakers, engineers and educators.

Public education, inevitably, impacts the direction of society. What we teach in our classrooms today directly impacts our community tomorrow. When we teach students speaking and listening skills, it is so they will know how to use their voices to enact change in our society. When we give them books to read about people from different cultures, it is so they will value diversity in our society. When we give them challenging assignments, it is so they will develop resilience to overcome adversity in our society.

When we pass on the baton, we want to know we are passing it on to a generation of leaders ready to make real-world decisions with the skills and values we have collectively sought to cultivate in them. Being a teacher is not only a responsibility, but also a tremendous privilege and opportunity.

Teaching is a dedication of time and talent. Teaching is a profession made up of innovative, adaptable, engaging, dedicated, dynamic, hardworking, resourceful, collaborative and compassionate individuals. It will take the best and the brightest teachers to address the behavioral, emotional, social, academic and physical needs of each of Kentucky’s students.

Why teach? The future of our Commonwealth depends on it.

Erin Ball, a language arts teacher at Georgetown Middle School (Scott County), is the 2020 Kentucky Teacher of the Year. She is currently on sabbatical at the Kentucky Department of Education and is a GoTeachKY Ambassador. Every student in Kentucky deserves an amazing teacher. Could that be you? Learn more about becoming a teacher at http://GoTeachKy.com.

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