For a Million Dollars, You Could at Least…

It wasn’t long ago that Nancy Atwell, a US eighth-grade teacher from Maine fought off competition from 5,000 educators from across the world to win a one million dollar global teaching award.  I was particularly inspired having begun my teaching career in Maine and having worked in Maine for 15 years.

Imagine, winning one million dollars and being recognized around the globe for your work!  That would not only be an amazing honor, but having a million dollars would also be life changing.  What a recognition for having worked and served children for more than four decades.

While I haven’t worked in public education for forty years, I have been an educator for twenty one years this year, having worked as an elementary teacher, an assistant principal, principal and a manager with a state education department working to support struggling school districts.  I’ve spent the mainstay of my years as a principal, working to support teachers, students and families in providing children with safe and engaging learning environments.  Not every day and not every job I’ve held have been easy, however, the factors that have remained the same over the twenty years have been my love and commitment to public education as well as my desire to help children.

This morning I opened my Zite page to look at what content might have been populated that would interest me and I have to say, I was both sad and angry with what I saw, followed up by what I heard.  While Nancy Atwell is being very generous by giving the million dollars to her school, she certainly wasn’t “generous” with her current portrayal of public education across the United States at the current time.

Teachers, administrators, and educational organizations will always be involved in political realms that affect the work of schools.  Not every educator will like Common Core State Standards and not every teacher will like administering standardized state tests.  However, every young educator should feel that they can join a profession, that, even with external demands, can make a difference for children as a result of their creativity, innovation, and passion for helping develop young minds.

For any young and potential educator that may read this post, I urge you, do not waiver from your desire to help children and make a difference in public education.  You can absolutely be creative in today’s educational climate, and you can innovate and make a difference for many young children that need a dedicated teacher willing to put in the time, and navigate the tumultuous educational times we are living in.  You can and will make a difference for children, and I guarantee you that you can make a difference in the education profession.  Those of us that have worked in education for any length of time are depending on you to join us, work hard, and reshape what happens in education for the betterment of our children and our world.

Nancy Atwell, if you should stumble upon this blog post, I hope you reflect on your advice to young people who are eager to serve children and want to make a difference in education.  Your good fortune and hard work should translate into words of encouragement for young educators, not words of cynicism that deflect them from what I consider one of the best professions anyone could ever venture into, even during these changing times in education.


Thomas Martellone,
Principal and Dedicated Public Educator

One Comment

  1. Rebekah Linton said:

    Hello! My name is Rebekah and I am a student in EDM 310 at the University of South Alabama. I really liked your post because I know I have my worries about entering the education system when there are a lot of changes going on that may not be of popular opinion. I’ve come across plenty of teachers who have warned me about common core and I know it makes me wary about teaching. Your post was encouraging to me because I haven’t had the most encouragement about being a teacher. I think the main focus should be on engaging the students in any way you can without stressing so much about whats going on with the education system. What are some of your ideas on keeping teachers motivated through these stressful times?

    March 25, 2015

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