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Riches are not true rewards

Title – Riches are not true rewards

By – Mark-Thomas Tye McKeehan

I always knew I wanted to be a teacher. I played school with my little sister teaching her to read before she entered kindergarten. I’ve had a love of learning and building knowledge since an early age.

My school years were horrible – dealing with bullies and teachers who didn’t seem to care. This only encouraged my desire to return to the classroom as a teacher to stop the violence and to inspire. After graduating a year early, I realized I did not have the self-confidence to be a teacher. I entered the accounting profession instead. This allowed me to succeed and to build the confidence I needed. I left that profession to return to college and get degrees in education. I found it difficult to locate a job in the public school system, so I worked for private schools and eventually transitioned into program leadership and then finally corporate training. The pay became much better than that of the teaching profession.

Soon I was at a very high level of this career working in technology for a major corporation. This afforded me a new house, vehicles, and vacations – even some plastic surgery! But I found I was not happy. I was working on million dollar projects for a billion dollar company. My bank account was full, but my heart was empty.

I taught at the college level to keep my hand in the door of education and even got my doctorate in education. But this was not enough. Finally, I made the decision. Difficult as it may be financially and dealing with the reactions of others, I began applying for jobs in the school system.

Late in the year, I quit my job, cut my salary in a third, to accept an Open-End position to teach out-of-my-field. With no promise of a contract for the next year.

On my first day I wanted to introduce myself to the students and answer their questions. I got the usual questions of my age, if I was married or had kids, and what we were going to do in class. But then I got a question that caught me off guard. A student asked, “Do you really want this job?”

As I looked out on the 34 faces staring back at me, suddenly I could think of a million (at least 34) reasons why I wanted this job.

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Mark-Thomas Tye McKeehan

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