A need for the passion
October 11, 2022
Every child has a teacher they look up to.
Every teenager has a teacher they confide in.
Every adult has a teacher they remember.
Teaching is a passionate subject, it requires diligence, it requires patience, it requires compassion.
Since the pandemic, schools have struggled to find enough teachers, especially in southern regions. The low-pay isn’t helping either. Without qualified instructors, students are not learning what they need to.
In the 2021 school year, the State of South Carolina had 6,927 teachers depart: 2,390 of those teachers had less than five years of experience.
It’s important, for the sake of the schools and students, to celebrate the teachers that are here.
Senior Bella Antonelli is currently in the Teacher Cadets program at Wando and following in the steps of her family, plans to become a teacher in her future as well.
“So much of my family is an educator in some capacity,” Antonelli said. “So I was like I should probably explore that career path, so I did and really fell in love with it.”
Antonelli thinks teachers deserve more recognition, especially with everything they do with few expectations of rewards.
“I think teachers are underappreciated and not paid enough…The ones who are in it, are not in it for the money, they’re not in it for the benefits, they’re in it for the kids,” Antonelli said.
Junior Jack Hipp is also in the Teacher Cadets at Wando, planning to be either an English or Theater teacher. Both of his parents are teachers as well. Throughout the years of COVID-19, Hipp has witnessed first hand all the hardships these teachers have gone through.
“I noticed that for my mother in particular, who works with younger children, it was harder for her because she felt like she didn’t have a connection with a lot of kids immediately. But over time, she seemed to grow a connection with the kids and teaching became easy. It just took a little bit longer,” Hipp said.
For Hipp, seeing the hardships teachers faced with COVID-19 didn’t drive him away from the career, but instead drove him closer.
“Probably for me [COVID-19] has made me want to be a teacher more, like how resilient the teachers have been with fixing that and like adapting to certain circumstances,” Hipp said.
Human Geography teacher Elizabeth Poppens didn’t start off at Wando as a teacher–she started off as a student.
Moving here her sophomore year, she wasn’t even sure what she wanted to do. That was until a counselor put her in teacher cadets and she instantly fell in love.
“The second that I joined I knew it was the right thing for me…[It] sparked a passion for me and led me to do what I do today,” Poppens said.
As the job is notorious for its low pay, Poppens didn’t seem to ever consider the pay as something obstructing her path.
“Sometimes, as I enter a young adult life, the compensation aspect of things is something that will pop up in my mind from time to time why I became a teacher. It’s really I’m here for the kids and I’m here for the experience and to work with these wonderful people so that keeps me grounded in this profession, so yea it has crossed my mind at some points but usually the next day when I go into work, it’s completely worth it,” Poppens said.
Even though Poppens has since settled in, teaching for the first time in COVID-19 wasn’t an easy task.
“When I first started teaching I just had finished my student teaching in college and I was the third teacher to come and teach that class that year that was really intimidating too come in that environment knowing those kids had already been through that many transitions and on top of that having to teach during the covid era,” Poppens said.
“That was a huge adjustment too, because in my college classes there was no, there was no rulebook on how to teach during COVID because it hadn’t happen yet,”
Poppens didn’t go through this alone though.
“When I got here everybody was so willing to help me out and I got a lot of great resources from all my colleagues. All those worries were pretty much settled by the time I got here because I knew I was in good hands,” Poppens said.
Poppens believes that at Wando, she is more fortunate than most teachers, who when this struggle came, did not have the same support she did.
“I think the general struggle with the teacher shortage at this point is that the pandemic added a lot of challenges onto an already challenging job and on top of the compensation aspect, that also drove a lot of people out,” Poppens said.
“But it’s so, so, important that people enter into this profession. It’s a challenging job, it’s an extremely difficult job, it’s an overwhelming job at times, but the world needs teachers. So it’s crucial we continue retaining people in the profession,” Poppens said.
“It’s important that we support our teachers in a way we retain them over an extended period of time because we need experienced teachers.”