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By Kaitlin Johnstone

Stand with our Teachers

Last night I attended a peaceful protest in Sarasota County, speaking out for teachers to receive fair wages. It was an empowering night for all in attendance.

In order to make sense of why we decided to stand there in that crowd of overworked and many times under-appreciated people, let me start off by saying, I love my job. There is quite honestly nothing better than to be able to see the world through the eyes of a child day in and day out. However, I will also be the first to tell you that of the approximately $43,000 a year that I make, I put at least $2,000 back into my classroom toward basic supplies and curriculum enhancements. Correct me if I am wrong, but the last time I checked, people in other career fields are given the tools they need to do their job. There is also the constant misconception that we work shorter hours than people in other fields, which is wildly incorrect. Sure, you always have some teachers, as with any profession, who get away doing the bare minimum; however, in attempts to put things into perspective I thought I’d take you through a typical day for me:  My alarm rang out at 5:15am this morning and I was off to the races! A quick shower, some piping hot coffee, and a banana for the road is all I needed to start the day. I arrived around 6:45am because I had a never-ending list of items to tackle prior to the kids arriving at 8am. In what appeared to be 30 seconds, the bell was ringing and my students were sprinting in to give me hugs and tell me how much they had missed me over break. A smile came over my face and I was quickly reassured why I chose this profession. Our morning was wonderful! We had discussions about pioneers of the past, followed by an intriguing writing as to why we live an easier life than our ancestors, and small group rotations in which I could catch up with all my students. Then it was off to lunch and I quickly realized that my once steaming coffee didn’t taste so great 4 hours later. As I quickly raced back to my room, one of my students called from behind, Mrs. Johnstone, I forgot my lunch! I walked him back to our class and then headed back for the cafeteria to ensure he made it ok. I glanced at my watch and realized I still had 17 minutes to run to the restroom for the first time and grab a quick sip of water. As I felt the key turning the lock in my door, I could hear the phone ringing. I ran to my desk and began a 15 minute conversation about field trip forms and homework. As I hung up, the internal debate of whether or not I had enough time to make it to the bathroom began. I decided against it and went to pick up the kids instead.

The rest of the day was a blur and as we lined up to say good bye at 3:00pm, one of my students wrapped his arms tightly around me and proceeded to tell me how very much he had missed me and just as happy as I started my day, I ended it. On my walk back to my room, the evil list started making circles around my brain. In my attempt to get everything done I wanted, I realized that I had still not gone to the bathroom and that my full coffee cup and untouched lunch were sitting in my fridge! I quickly ran to the microwave and sat down for the first time to enjoy my now early dinner. While grading papers, it was time to pack up and head to the rally. I left at 4:30 and many of my colleagues were still busy at work as I walked out of the building.  While at the protest, I encountered many fellow teachers that touched my heart. A man, carrying his child, wore a sign that read, “I miss my dad, he has to have two jobs to support us.” With each sign and every honking car, I felt hopeful that change is coming. I felt grateful to be a part of such an incredible group of people all working toward the same goal. I felt appreciated by people outside of my field who understand how important our youth is and in turn, how vital educators are to their growth.

So, to all of the teachers out there, I would like to extend the biggest thank you I can to each of you. I understand your daily struggles and your immense love for your children. Together we will make a difference! Keep fighting!!!


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