Education

This Is Why I Teach 313

Kate Stevens

“Why would you want to teach in Detroit?”

This was the question asked by so many when I decided to move from my small town in northern Michigan and apply for teaching positions in downtown Detroit.

Teaching is one of the most challenging, rewarding, underappreciated, and life changing professions one could hope to pursue. Teaching is honorable, because every single child on this planet is deserving of teachers who believe in them, who challenge them, and who guide them as they develop their character and pursue their dreams.

Why would I teach in Detroit?  The answer is simple.

It’s for the kids.

Every great teacher loves “their kids.”  Even though my first teaching position found me ten minutes from the house in which I grew up in Northern Michigan, I couldn’t feel any more like I’ve found my teaching home than I do now that I teach in Detroit.  MY kids are bold, brilliant, compassionate, driven, gritty, thoughtful, and curious.

But teachers everywhere will say this, so what makes Detroit different?

Hope.  Pride. Perseverance.

This is my 11th year of teaching. I currently teach Chemistry at Detroit Edison Public School Academy to the most amazing group of juniors and seniors I could ever hope to call “my kids.”  They bring me with them as they grow, and they educate me while they learn.

Is teaching in Detroit challenging?   Every day…but also, everywhere. That is why I say if you are authentically in the profession to improve the lives of students with the knowledge you bring, share in their laughter and their tears, their successes and failures, then the students of Detroit will love you, embrace you, build you up. This sense of fulfillment will reinforce your decision to teach in Detroit over and over again.  There is no better place.

I am lucky to teach in Detroit, because I  feel connected to Detroiters, As a 2003 Wayne State University graduate, I had the amazing experience of learning the city, meeting its residents, and feeling its pulse. Now I’m enthralled.

There is no other city in the world like Detroit. I have built incredible relationships with my colleagues, the families of my students, and the community, but most importantly, with the kids. Their fist bumps, high fives, and hugs revitalize my soul every day. My students show genuine concern when I miss a day of school, or if I look tired. They sneak back into my room once they have passed chemistry to tell me they miss my class, that they got into their dream college, or just to chat.  They challenge me to grow through their curiosity and talent, amaze me with their grit, crack me up with their wit and convince me, every single day, that Detroit is the best city in America for teachers.

Why Detroit?

Why on Earth not?

Kate Stevens

Kate Stevens is a high school science teacher with New Paradigm for Education.

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