I Am a Teacher

By Rita DiCarne

The past few years have been tough on Catholic school teachers with the closing of schools and the reduction of teaching staff.  Many of my non-teaching friends encouraged me to leave the profession and “recreate” myself like all the popular magazines suggest.  One friend in particular asked me, “What else do you see yourself doing?”  My response was silence.  I just couldn’t come up with a single thing – not one.

You see, I teach for selfish reasons.  Teaching gives me permission to be a life-long learner, to read and write and share my passions with my students.  It challenges me to be the best me I can be and in turn encourage my students to be their best selves. Teaching keeps me young at heart and mind through my daily interactions with students and gives me the chance to see the world through their eyes.  They teach me as much or even more than I hope they are learning in our classroom.

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My Father’s Enthusiasm for Teaching, My Mother’s Love of Language, and Me

By Mary Buckelew

I think back to my childhood.  I grew up in a teaching family. Our lives were governed by the rhythm of the school year. The rhythm is still comforting and familiar – the beginnings and endings.  My father taught high school math and coached a variety of sports during his 40 year career as an educator. My dad left for work happy and came home exhausted but full of funny and loving stories about his students.  When I was old enough to ask questions like “What do you like about your job?”  My father was quick to tell me, “The students — I keep the kids at the center of what I do – then I can ignore all the rest, the administration, the school board, the well-meaning parents, the mandates that don’t make sense.”

More than five hundred people attended my father’s wake this past summer, and I think most of them were former students and the athletes he had coached. Whether coaching or teaching, my father saw the best in people and worked hard to help them discover their potential in the classroom, on the football field, on the baseball diamond, and on the wrestling mat.  Coach Bellucci was beloved because he saw what was important – the heart of the matter and the heart of a person.

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I Teach Because I Want to Learn More About Myself

By Marlene Kimble

As a late bloomer in this profession – having stepped into a classroom for the first time at thirty five – I sat with a room full of bright- eyed 22 year olds fresh out of undergrad sitting at the district office eyes glazed over while the HR lady reviewed official documents and we signed on dotted lines.  If you asked any of us why we were there, it would probably be a familiar response: I want to make a difference in the lives of children.  It was true for me too.  I was a mother and wife; I had been home for a number of years; and there didn’t seem to be any job important enough for me to leave my kids so I went back to school to do the job of teaching.

In those earlier years, I’m sure I made a difference in some of the lives of my kids, but I was surprised to find that there was a big difference between being a teacher and actually teaching. That fantasy of smiling in front of the room – cute dress, high heels, calling on kids with hands raised, encouraging them while they did their seat work, grading papers – wasn’t quite what education had in mind in 2005.

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Change of Address

By Anonymous

Lots of people change their addresses when looking for a job. People find another address that they can use. I know someone who had better luck looking as soon as she changed her address from North Preston to Dartmouth. She said she felt shame about it, but she had to do it. I changed mine once when I lived in public housing briefly – I used my mom’s address instead, to get a job at a place where that shouldn’t be an issue. Someone else I know, when asked where she grew up, says “the North End” – she doesn’t want to say Gottingen St. If you say “the Square” (Uniacke Square) people kind of say, “Oh, you don’t seem like someone who grew up there,” if you don’t fit the stereotype. But so many people live there.

Reprinted with permission from Working While Black in Nova Scotia.

Working While Black in Nova Scotia is a joint project of Ujamaa, Solidarity Halifax and Kwacha House Cafe. The project aims to publish anonymous stories of anti-black racism in the workplace in Nova Scotia. Publishing these stories allows workers in the Black community to know that they are not alone in their experience of racism.

Racism in the Education System

By Anonymous

Here are some ways racism plays out for people of African descent working in the education system:

– Black teachers can be subtly expected to be the ones to deal with “problem” black students, even if they’re not in their class. This means they have a higher workload since they already have their own students to deal with.

– Black teachers are expected to be the ones to organize events like African heritage Month assemblies, or to lead cultural groups for black students. It’s complicated because often black teachers want to be good role models and help create positive experiences for kids from the black community, but at the same time the expectation is stifling when your workload is heavy. Also it’s great when a black teacher teaches a course like African Canadian Studies, but also that expectation can be stifling. Maybe a black teacher would rather teach another course…

– When there aren’t many black students in a school, there’s a sense of “well, maybe we don’t need to do anything for African Heritage Month.”

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Sometimes When We Have Extra Food I Bring It In To Share With My Coworkers

Billy Villa, Custodian

Boulder [Colorado] prides itself on being a diverse, tight-knit community. But many of us who work here feel marginalized and excluded from this experience.

I’m talking about those of us who work for large employers but are making meager wages. I’ve been a custodian at University of Colorado Boulder for about 2 years now, yet I cannot afford to live in the city I work in. I commute at least an hour a day because the rents in Boulder are just too high.

I’m almost sixty and I have to live with my brother and his wife, because I cannot afford to live on my own. Each month, I am just one paycheck away from being broke. That’s why I’ve been looking for a second job to help me pay my bills.People think that working for the state you get a good wage and great benefits, but that’s not true. I’m one of the nearly 3000 state workers who make less than a living wage and struggle to make ends meet.

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This Struggle Needs to End

By Laurel Loesser, Custodian

Each day, when cleaning various buildings of CU-Boulder, I see plaques with the Colorado Creed plastered all over campus, the third and final tenet of which says “Contribute to the greater good of this community.” Each day, I feel that the University is far from living the creed, because more than 500 of CU-Boulder’s workers are paid wages we can’t survive on.

When I’m working I try to keep my campus beautiful. I’m on the team that responds to emergencies, so when you have a leak or someone throws up in class, I’m the person who’s coming to fix what’s wrong. I take pride in knowing that I’m making classrooms a good environment for learning and the grounds a beautiful place to walk through. But when I think about whether my daughter could attend this school, I know that as a single mom I can’t afford it.

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Good Night

By Tim Fasano, Taxi Driver, Tampa

The night air has a certain quality to it. Over the years I have seen people become intoxicated by it. Everything changes at night. Qualitative and quantitative perceptions change after the midnight hour. Soon, a quite sets over the city; people vanish from their pursuit of the vain and tawdry. A stillness overcomes your perceptions and your observations become keenly aware of activities not seen during daylight. The ubiquitous scrum of traffic no longer dominates the urban sprawl.

As a night driver in the city, you develop a relationship with your surroundings. The delivery man unloading milk behind the supermarket becomes your friend even if we have never spoke. This is where I often sleep while waiting to be summed by the $2.40 a mile idol starring at me from the dashboard. Strangely, he has never been my friend. More like a prison guard, always watching but only capable of doing what its been told to do. Seems appropriate for cab driving becomes a form of incarceration.

All is well tonight untill the guy in the street sweeper truck awakes me up with a sound louder than a jet engine. What gets me is the parking lot looks no cleaner after he’s done. Whatever happened to a broom?

Reprinted with permission from Tampa Taxi Shots.

How I Dealt With Gender Discrimination As A Woman In The Automotive Industry

By Chelsy Ranard


When I first started working for an off-roading tour in Alaska I didn’t know anything about cars – about any vehicle really. I walked on site for the first time with my manager, who was a man, a few mechanics that were men, and another guide who was (surprise) also a man. I was immediately intimidated…

When I was hired I was told that I didn’t need to be mechanically inclined in any way. Those things could be taught and my ability to show stellar customer service was much more important. Once on site, my manager immediately asked me to drive the karts over to the washing station… I didn’t even know how to start these things. I asked him to show me and he rolled his eyes and showed me how. “Here we go,” I thought. Here comes the gender discrimination. I’m already the only chick on site and (surprise) I’m an idiot.

In the years prior to this I worked for a fly fishing and hiking tour. My boss was a female fly fisherman and we were used to being in an all-male driven industry. I’ve gotten the laughs and snide remarks from men after giving them fishing advice. I have a ton of male friends that I grew up with that give me a hard time for not knowing a particular gun or type of truck. These stereotypes were nothing new to me, but I knew I could learn these things and was always frustrated at these negative opinions from the men in my life. I never cared that they didn’t know anything about my girl-centric hobbies so why should they care about what I didn’t know?

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There Are Days When You Eat, And Others When You Don’t, But You Always Have To Work

By Pedro Alvarez

WINDSOR, CA – Pedro Alvarez is a migrant farm worker in Windsor. His children and grandchildren live in northern California. He speaks Triqui, a language spoken by indigenous people in his hometown of Santa Cruz Rio Venado, Oaxaca, Mexico.
Copyright David Bacon

I came here the first time in 1985 and went to work at in a vineyard. I didn’t know how to do the work at first, but I eventually learned how to prune, plant, tie vines and remove leaves. I also worked the grape harvest. I already had experience working outdoors on many ranches and in the fields in Oaxaca. It was easier working back there, though.

After a couple of years I brought my son Alejandro to the U.S. He began to work with us, but then cut his hand. The contractor said, “He can’t work. He has to go to school.” I didn’t know anything about the school system, but a friend helped me enroll him in high school. Alejandro graduated and went on to attend college in Sacramento. Two of my sons later joined me and then I brought my family to the U.S. in 1999. My wife, daughter and grandchildren all came.

I work in the fields to help my family. I worked a few years at one winery and then changed companies. It was very hard working for the second winery because they pressured us to work extremely fast, and they did not even provide us with water. You had to be strong, but some people couldn’t handle the conditions. The soil was hard; to do some jobs you had to walk with a shovel and a sack of fertilizer. People used to faint during the harvest because the work was so difficult. If you were behind the others by 20 plants, there was no work for you the next day.

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