Before she became the district’s teacher of the year, Fowler was chosen Sims Middle School’s Teacher of they Year. In introducing her to the Union County Board of School Trustees as his school’s teacher of the year, Sims Principal Mickey Connelly said prior to becoming an educator, Fowler was employed as a chemist making twice the salary of a teacher. To become a teacher meant taking a 50 percent cut in salary but Fowler did so despite the cost because she wanted to inspire in her students the love of science her teachers inspired in her.
Fowler should not have had to take a 50 percent cut in pay to become a teacher and would not have had to do so if society truly appreciated its teachers and their importance to its future and paid them accordingly.
After parents, teachers literally shape the future of society because they shape the young, instilling in them the intellectual habits and disciplines that make learning the lifetime experience it should be. In Fowler’s case, her teacher inspired in her a love of a science that lead her to become, first, a chemist, and then a science teacher herself. For the past four years, she has been sharing that love of science with her students, inspiring many to seriously consider a career in science.
Science created the modern world with all of its advances, advantages, conveniences and opportunities. A world without science is a primitive world, a world where life is dull, short and brutish indeed. The difference between those worlds are the scientists who made the modern world possible and the science teachers who made scientists possible. Teachers like Fowler who gained their love of science from teachers who loved it themselves and now pass it on to the students in their care improved the human condition and will continue to do so for generations to come.
This is not to slight the other educational disciplines such as English, mathematics and history. We have classes in these and other subjects as well as science because a well-rounded education is vital to producing well-rounded young men and women who can take what they learned in the classroom and apply to everyday life to improve both themselves and their community. Whether it is science, math, English or history, the time in the classroom under the tutelage of a dedicated and inspiring teacher is time well-spent that will pay a lifetime of dividends.
It is an awesome responsibility to be a teacher, yet it is a profession that is not truly appreciated given its importance to the well-being and progress of society. Simply put, teachers aren’t paid what they’re worth to society and that’s why they either earn less than they could in the private sector or are forced to leave teaching to earn the income their abilities, talents and skills entitle them to.
The fact that many of them remain in teaching despite the financial sacrifices involved is a credit to them and a shame to society for forcing them to make such a sacrifice. Why do they do it? Why do they stay on, year after year, earning less than they could elswhere? Why do they make the sacrifice?
They do it because of what teaching is. Fowler described teaching as being “about love, compassion and just plain old time… with children.”
Teachers love children and that’s why they’re willing to sacrifice their own opportunities in life to ensure those young lives entrusted to their care are able to take advantage of their opportunities in life. As a society we should remember that and remember just how important our teachers are to our future and reward them accordingly so they are not forced to choose between doing what they love and earning the living they deserve.