I loved my years of volunteering at Cumberland Elementary in Whitefish Bay -- being a reading buddy, helping with Jr. Great Books, serving on the PTO board, then becoming PTO president -- so when it came time to start thinking about reentering the workforce I knew that teaching was the perfect fit.
At age 43 I went back to school at Alverno College where their program was mostly on weekends, allowing me to balance being a stay-at-home mom while taking a few classes at a time. It wasn’t easy, and having to relearn Algebra 30 years after my last math class was excruciating! But as part of my curriculum I was able to work in schools all across the Milwaukee area, from public to private, urban to suburban. And if you want to know how to improve our schools, just ask a teacher.
We are asking our schools to do more than ever before, but we are not giving them the resources they need to do so. Every school needs more special education funding, more school psychologists and counselors, more school nurses. It’s not just a matter of more money (although that helps), it’s also providing school leaders dependable funding levels so they can make big plans to prepare schools for 21st century jobs -- jobs we haven’t even thought of yet! This is a huge task, and we can’t do it on a shoestring.
I have personally used duct-tape to hold chairs together because they pinched students’ legs, but there were no more chairs to be had. With my own funds I have purchased countless supplies including pencils, dry-erase markers, highlighters, graph paper, and daily breakfast for my students -- because if I didn’t they would go without. It’s time for us to prioritize education. If we want students prepared for 21st century jobs, and to do those jobs right here in Wisconsin, we need to put our kids first.