Citizen Comment – Pam Hill – May 19, 2016

As a 5 yr old student in 1966, I had new crayons, pants my Momma made me, and I walked into Highlands Elementary School in District 5.

My favorite teacher was Mrs. Essenmacher. Fifteen years later she came to my wedding. In 4th grade I had Mrs. Broadhead. She was very strict, but she said I was smart-and I believed her. It was because of her concern for me that I decided that day, one day I would be a teacher.

I then went to Ed White Middle School. I remember a teacher throwing a chair across the pod, and my mother went to the principal Tom Drake and talked to him about that! Next was Butler High School! That was a big jump, but I did fine. I was probably a nerd, but the football players thought I was cute.

I became a Dixie Deb and things went well. However, I did wreck a car in Drivers Education, and to this day, my husband won’t let me drive his truck. I graduated from the largest class Butler High ever had, and I was near the top of my class. My parents were proud. I never lost my dream of being a teacher, because teachers keep children safe and keep their word.

Life happened, I had two beautiful children and even four more beautiful grandchildren. My children graduated from Grissom High and are successful in North AL. I enjoyed being a room mother, a substitute teacher, a mentor, a PTA volunteer, a cheerleader mom, a football mom, and more.

I finally finished my first of 5 education degrees in 1998. Norton Webb hired me at Lakewood Elementary School. Boy! We’re things different in the elementary classroom than they were in the college classroom! Even my student teaching at Stone Middle School did not prepare me for my own classroom.

To be a good, or great teacher, it takes YEARS OF EXPERIENCE. I also believe teaching is a calling. You can tell who is called to teach, and those who simply report to work. I eventually worked at Whitesburg, Hampton Cove, Dawson, and Williams. I taught summer school at Stone and Grissom.

Things have changed now. You can not make friends with your principal or cohorts. Everyone is constantly moved around to create intended dysfunction and chaos. Teachers are now told to follow directives instead of using their creativity. Tests have become more important than teaching. Contracts are more important than commitment, and data is a priority over discipline. Morale has fallen and teachers are racing to retire or resign.

I see the loss of hope in the eyes of educators who remain. I tried to write, call, talk , email , and speak to those who could make a difference. No one listened. I’ll end with the words from Garth Brooks song, “Looking back on the memories we shared, for a moment of the days all the world was right, and many lives are better. And now I’m glad I didn’t know how it would all end, the way it would go. I could have missed the pain, but then, I would have missed the dance.” God bless, and I love district 5.