First Day Back to School, 2017 – Day 4,141– An Open Letter to Teachers


Tomorrow begins my 13th year at my current school, the Home of the Titans.

Tomorrow begins my 20th year of teaching – three schools so far. Hope I stay at my current school the rest of my career.

Tomorrow is my 4,141st day in high school as a student and teacher (non-workdays) That does not include my stint as a student teacher.

Ironically, that number is much higher if I count all of the days in the summers I am at school making preparations for the coming school years and the official workdays.

If I was a coach, that number would be still much higher. But many people do not see that because they are fixated on teachers having “summers off.”

Tomorrow is my daughter’s 181st day of high school. Maybe she will say hello to me if I pass her in the hall.

And I am still nervous. Why? Because I want it to go well. Not just for me, but for my own children, and the students who will be in my classes.

I know what my lesson plans are. Copies are made. Notes ready to talk about. Books ready to assign. Webpages are ready and linked. Introductions rehearsed. Even some homework is planned. I have more ready to do than could ever be done in the allotted amount of time. Yet, I am still nervous.

But I am nervous for the right reasons. I want students to do well. I want them to succeed. I want them to become self-learners, and I want them to use me as a resource, not just a guide.

However, if you teach in North Carolina, there is a lot working against you. The the General Assembly has not been kind to public education in the past four + years. Vouchers, rapid growth of charters, disproportionate raises, school grading systems, misguided standardized tests, a neophyte for a state superintendent, etc. That list goes on and on.

Our collegiate schools of education are not at capacity. Governor’s School has been on a chopping block. There is SB599. Specials in elementary schools are threatened in the name of “class size.” Per pupil expenditure is lower than it was before the recession. Our state superintendent and state board of education have spent more time in court than on the job.


I know that when I walk into my classroom tomorrow morning, I will be the teacher – constant,  inspired, ready to engage students, many of whom do not want to be there.

I want to be there. And my students will know that I want to be there.

If you are a veteran teacher in North Carolina (and that means you are not new), then I am proud to be called one of your ranks. If you are new to the teaching world, then I hope you will see that this is a noble profession filled with wonderful people. And we will gain back the respect of those who have put obstacles in our way.

I wish every public school teacher the best of first days.

Even if it is hard to sleep the night before such as it is with me.

I think you are the best of people.