Letters to the Editor

GUEST COLUMN: Teaching is more than a job; it's a passion to influence lives

Helping students goes far beyond classes and tests

Bob Sondgeroth[]

Why would someone want to go into teaching?

I get this question often.

I answer it by saying that teaching is not just a job – it is a vocation.

Teaching gives you the opportunity to watch young people grow and change, sometimes right before your eyes.

There is nothing better than seeing the world open to a student when they learn how to read, or to hear the excitement in a parent’s voice when they tell you their child read to them for the first time.

The feeling you get when one of your former students tells you how you changed their life is amazing. 

My favorite story is of a first-grade student I had my second year of teaching. She wasn’t feeling well, so I kept her in at recess and asked her to read a book. After a few minutes, I sat down next to her and she threw up on me.

Six years later, her mother called to let me know she had emergency surgery in Rockford. When she came out of recovery, her mother asked her if there was anyone besides her family that she wanted to see, and she asked for me.

My wife and I drove to Rockford to see her. A few years ago, I danced at her wedding.

These are just some of the reasons you would want to be a teacher.

For another perspective, I asked my dear friend and retired teacher, Betty Clementz, for her thoughts on the subject.

“Teaching is the greatest profession one can enter. If asked why I became a teacher, it was because I wanted to make a difference in the lives of students,” Betty said.

“I loved learning every day, and I knew I would continue to do so when challenged by my students. I would form relationships over time – first with the parents of my students, and then with those very students as they became adults, and even now with the children of my former students, and even grandchildren.

“Teaching allowed me to interact with students in the classroom and during extra-curricular activities. Through contact both in classroom and out of classroom, a teacher becomes a social worker, a nurse, a guidance counselor, a confidant, a role model, a sounding board, and most certainly, a friend.”  

The wonderful part of teaching is that teaching is a calling. If you have that calling, you never have to work a day in your whole career, because you enjoy your task so thoroughly you never dread going to work.

Your work is in sharing your knowledge and instilling that love into the next generation.

Our passion comes from knowing we’ve helped our students along their way in life.

Teaching is NOT a 9-to-5 job – it is a passion.

Note to readers: Robert Sondgeroth is superintendent of the Lee-Ogle-Whiteside Regional Office of Education.