Being a teacher is tough anywhere. On a national scale, being a teacher in North Carolina is arguably among the most challenging environments in public education.
Recent "rankings" have painted a picture of North Carolina's public schools that have raised alarm in communities across the state, bringing public education to the forefront of policy and politics.
Most would agree that where we are is not where we need to be to compete economically in modern regional, national, and global markets.
The real challenge for teachers has been navigating the course that has been set before us by historic changes to education funding, teacher training, and student support services. All of this done largely without input from education professionals and active classroom teachers.
Despite rowing upstream in a fast current, teachers in North Carolina remain fiercely dedicated to our promise to produce remarkable students who are well prepared to thrive in a fluid future. So, it should be of great concern that North Carolina trained teachers are leaving to teach elsewhere with greater autonomy, receive compensation that reflects the unique expertise of our education, experience, and training, and have access to resources that help students succeed beyond the schoolhouse.
"I've never heard a teacher say, I left because of the kids. It's not the kids."
So why do we stay?
The images and stories shared by teachers in WUNC's #TeachingInNC initiative reflect the profoundly personal nature of the job performed everyday by classroom teachers in North Carolina's Public Schools.
These submissions portray the humanistic side of the business of education that is unquantifiable and cannot be evaluated by concrete assessments. It is measured in the health, happiness, and success of our students as people, not merely for data as a function of teacher worthiness.
The intent to provide relevant and actionable knowledge is clear.
NC teachers take great care to create a learning environment that teaches the whole child, and provides an educational experience that will help them grow both personally and academically.
We want them seek knowledge and understanding, then return home and make where they came from better, simply by being there.
Teachers invest all that we are. We grade stacks of papers after the family has gone to bed. We spend Saturday night cooking homemade Play-do so our students can be creative in understanding. We are inspired by the success of others, and are humbled by the extent of our reach.
I am proud to call myself a teacher in North Carolina. Standing our ground is what we do here. We are the Tar Heel state after all.
Timothy Barnsback is the president of the Professional Educators Of N.C.