Why I Teach by Nancy Reynolds
October 31, 2022
When I was in third grade, I proclaimed my desire to be a teacher to my family. I knew I wanted to make children like school. Several months later, my dad asked me to come downstairs, to the “unfinished side” of the basement. My dad, an engineer and talented carpenter, had built me this awesome little classroom! There was a chalkboard, bookshelves, a teacher’s desk, and a few little desks. I was beyond excited. Of course, there were a few glitches… I am one of four kids in my family, and after each of my siblings “endured” being a student for me a few times, I ran out of humans in my classroom. I even bribed the neighborhood kids, but then needed to resort to stuffed dolls and animals. Talk about starting my profession at an early age!
I continued my path to become a teacher, remaining ever optimistic and looking forward to having my own “real” classroom. I have been so very fortunate to have taught in many schools, gaining a unique perspective and the opportunity to experience different school systems. I have worked in a parochial school, public schools, and independent schools. I have taught many different aged students and am grateful to be a part of this wonderful world in which we have the privilege to educate children.
I have also been fortunate to have been in the company of so many fellow teachers and administrators, who have taught me more than I could have possibly imagined. It is a great pleasure to watch other teachers teach, to hang out in each other’s rooms after a long school day and share the ups and downs, to tell those sweet and laughable stories that happened in your class, to be part of this unique world we know and care about so much.
I first taught fourth grade, in a parochial school, where our principal was also the seventh-grade teacher… talk about multi-tasking! To all of us, she did it effortlessly, in heels and a suit every day! She became a cherished mentor, and I continue to love listening and learning from others. I feel enriched with their knowledge, their experience, their shared goals. How fortunate we all are to have one another… it’s quite a nice little village.
I couldn’t be happier to have landed here at Renbrook. I originally came here looking to work at summer camp but fell in love with another teacher and never looked back. Peter and I speak the same language, we share the same love of teaching, being part of this community, and we admire the teachers we work with. He is my biggest fan, and I am grateful for him and the gift we gave our children to be at Renbrook. The circle grows when you see your children in school, and when you are a teacher and see your students and the families they belong to. That circle is always meaningful to me.
I teach because I feel so comfortable with children. I love to capture their attention, to make subjects interesting and even exciting.
I teach because each year our classes and students are different, and I get to figure out what makes them like school and learning. They motivate me.
I teach because I get to witness losing a tooth for the first time, making a new friend, helping the teacher, understanding how to add and subtract, hands waving frantically with shouts of “I know, pick me!”
I teach because each day if different, because children bring new things to the table, and each day has endless possibilities.
I teach because children have a beautiful innocence. They are open, and honest, and want to learn about everything. Come spend a day in first grade, it is both exhausting and wonderful.
I teach because the smells of a school, the sights of the hallways and the classrooms, fills me with incredible comfort, like I’ve arrived at the right place!
I teach for all the small moments, because when you’re a child, the small moments can be huge.
I teach because watching a child read for the first time never gets old. Pure joy.
I teach because of the saved boxes of beautiful, heartfelt notes and letters from my past students and their parents. I feel their gratitude for being able to nurture them and take care of them. I’ve touched their hearts, and they’ve touched mine.
I teach simply because I want to make learning, and school, and friendships, and connections with teachers, the most meaningful to every student I can.
I teach because children’s excitement and wonder are such a simple gift that I get to be a part of as their teacher. For a time, I am important in their lives.
I teach because it is simply a joy. And joy, for anyone, sparks a love to grow, a love to be more and do more and to be part of more.
One of my joys came full circle on our wedding day. As the church doors were opened, I was standing holding my dad’s arm, and we looked out and saw the most wonderful, large group of my students and their families. They had traveled over an hour to see me get married. And as I waved to them, and pointed them out to my dad, he squeezed my hand, and we both knew that classroom was certainly worth building.
I will end with a beautiful poem, by a well-known man that Peter has always quoted from with our family. John Wooden was an amazing basketball coach, but his true love was being a teacher.
“No written word,
No spoken plea
Can teach our
Youth what they
Nor all the books
On all the shelves,
It’s what the