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Another View: Some advice from lifetime in education and teaching



To the Times:

During my almost 60 years as an educator, I have convinced about 15 bright boys and girls to join our ranks as teachers. I’m talking about students who could have studied to become doctors, lawyers, and engineers. I’ll admit that there were a few scary moments when some parents complained to my bosses that I had no right trying to recruit their talented children.

One young man comes to mind. He went on to a good liberal arts college. He got a master’s degree and a real PhD and slowly worked himself up to becoming a superintendent of a school district in Connecticut.

Here is some of the advice I gave him while he pursued a brilliant career as an educator. Don’t go into the faculty lounge was the first commandment. All you’ll get there are complaints, moaning and groaning, gossip, and deep-seated professional jealousy.

Run for office, mainly try to become the chairman of your teachers’ union. There you will be able to show your ability to negotiate, compromise and lead.

I told him during his visits to my office and to his parents’ house to arrive one hour early for work every morning. Don’t be the first one to escape the building at the end of the day.

Make sure you hold “help” classes several days a week and make lots of phone calls home to parents, giving good news about progress and potential.

He did follow my advice about sponsoring the school newspaper and the student government. He and his wife, also a school teacher, attended as many sporting events as possible, and he even helped coach the varsity football team as a quarterbacks coach, the position he played at the high school where I lured him into becoming an educator.

I also shared with him some little tricks of the trade. He was always to walk the halls briskly with a clipboard in hand as though there was always a destination in mind.

He ate school lunches and never brown bagged it.

He requested strongly to teach the AP classes. We all know that parents of AP students are usually the power brokers in any community.

He sacrificed and struggled, with a little help coming from his parents, to buy a home and live in the community in which he worked.

He dressed like a junior executive, not one of the kids.

Once in a while, he throws me a bone. I’ve done faculty workshops for him, sharing with his staff tips on study skills and time management. I delivered a graduation speech and have spoken to parent groups.

Let’s face it. We need talented and bright minds in our ranks. We need merit pay for great teachers so that they don’t have to leave the classroom and seek jobs as administrators to earn a decent life style.

I am still on the lookout for young people to get them to think seriously about becoming educators. I never did make it up the ranks. I had a tough time believing all the clichés and banalities one must hold as truisms to climb the ladder.

In the trenches was where this maverick truly belonged, using humor and a big, big bag of tricks to keep his students awake and alive.

Sam Alfonsi, Marple

Article source: http://www.delcotimes.com/opinion/20170811/another-view-some-advice-from-lifetime-in-education-and-teaching