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Texas ISD School Guide
Texas ISD School Guide


Why I'm a Teacher
By:Daris Howard

It was graduation day at the university where I work, and a beautiful day it was, quite unlike the first graduation I attended as a young professor. I recall that at that one the cold south wind had swirled the snow around us.

On that day years ago, as we watched the students file past, one of my more seasoned colleagues, who was also my mentor, turned to me and said, "Graduation will be one of the happiest and one of the saddest times of your life."

When I inquired why it would the one of the saddest, he very somberly answered, "Because some of the students you have gotten to know have to leave."

When I asked him why it would also be one of the happiest, he grinned. "Because some of the students you have gotten to know have to leave."

As the procession of students ended, we marched to join them in the auditorium, filling the seats reserved for us. As the commencement droned on, my colleague reached inside the bell sleeves of his graduation robe, pulling out a book of differential equations from one and popcorn from the other. His quiet munching and flipping of pages soon drew my attention away from the redundant words which were meant to inspire.

But my colleague's words that day are etched deep into my mind. When I come across the infrequent student that is belligerent, almost daring a person to teach him, I have had to rethink why I chose to be a teacher. It obviously isn't the money. This was brought home to me some time ago, when a former computer science student of mine called me, informing me of his job at Nintendo Corporation. His starting wage was higher than my current one, though I have more education than he has and I have worked for more than a decade. He said he knew that with my programming skills, he could get me hired, and then added, "...and the best part is after programming, we get to play the game for six months to test it."

I thanked him, but declined his kind offer, remembering an event that had happened years earlier in a class I had taken. We were given the assignment of working on our own obituary, not as we were then, but as we hoped our life would play out. That has colored many of the decisions I have made through the years. I couldn't envision the epitaph on my headstone saying, "He loved to play games".

My mind returned to just a few days before this current graduation. While I was working on final grades, I had found a note a student had slipped in with her homework. She thanked me for being her teacher and said the things she had learned in my class - not about math, but about life - would be things she would remember long after the math skills had faded away. As I finished reading her note, I remembered why I had become a teacher.

Now, on this sunny graduation day, as I again observed the sea of blue caps and gowns, I did so with renewed dedication and a deeper sense of satisfaction. The next semester will arrive again with its new challenges and with a new batch of eager young students, and I will, as always, be grateful I am a teacher.

Daris Howard
copyright 2006
all rights reserved
Any commercial use of this article is strictly prohibited.

More stories, books, and plays by Daris Howard can be read at http://www.darishoward.com

Daris Howard is an author and playwright who grew up on a farm in rural Idaho. Throughout his life he has associated with many colorful characters including cowboys, farmers, lumberjacks, truck drivers, factory workers, and others while working in these and other industries.

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