by Joe Westerfield
I have heard people say that they do not want their kids to be teachers because they would never make any money or have anything. Baloney! I taught school for 33 years and I am rich.
I am rich because I got to be apart of the lives of several thousand young men and women.
I am rich because I have seen these young men and women grow up to be successful doctors, lawyers, accountants, financial planners, teachers, principals, bank presidents, college professors, scientists, Realtors, business owners, morticians, architects, farmers, factory workers, mechanics, firemen, policemen, CEOs, cosmetologists, electricians, plumbers, landscapers, school board members, city commissioners, state legislators and many other jobs I may not know about or have long forgotten.
I am rich because I helped over 5,000 students register to vote. I got to see the excitement in their voices when they went to the polls for the first time and told me about it.
I am rich because I got to see the light bulb go off when they understood what I was trying to teach and when they understood why working hard was important.
I am rich because I got to see students learn to study, learn how to become organized, and learn from their mistakes.
I am rich because I got to see thousands of young ladies in their prom dresses and their dates in their tuxedos at the prom. I still have lots of pictures taken with them at the prom.
I am rich because I saw these same students at their graduations in their caps and gowns and heard their wonderful speeches and saw them march out for the last time.
I am rich because I found the vocation that I was interested in and got the opportunity to teach the subject I liked and spent time building up the experience I needed to work with high school kids.
I am rich because I have a box full of cards, letters and e-mails that former students have sent me over the years.
I am rich because of the hundreds of Facebook posts I received when I had the honor of being inducted into the Kentucky Teacher Hall of Fame in 2018.
I became a teacher because I thought it was one of the most important jobs in our society. I still do. Money isn’t everything!
Joe Westerfield was a teacher in Daviess County Public Schools for 33 years before retiring in 2002. He wrote this in recognition of Teacher Appreciation Week, which is May 8-12.