Teaching as a calling

August 6, 2011 in Faith Matters by David Waters

Teaching is an occupation. It’s also a vocation, a calling.

What’s the difference?

An occupation often is about the money. A vocation is never about the money. An occupation is what people do to make a living. A vocation is what people do for the living. An occupation is what the market values. A vocation is what God values.

We asked a number of local teachers to explain why they see Teaching as a Calling or Teaching as an Act of Faith.

Click on the links to read their responses:

Oakshire Elementary School
Teacher Rita Martin
Teachers touch everyone from the least to the greatest: What a fine time to discuss teaching! The school doors are about to swing open and thousands of children from all walks of life will enter those doors, bringing with them numerous expectations and challenges for their teachers.
Who are the teachers? They are the shakers, movers, and molders of young lives. They are the professionals who have touched the lives of everyone, from the least to the greatest. Regardless to what your job is, you were touched by a teacher — these movers, shakers, and molders of children will face myriad challenges as they pursue their objectives of preparing students to lead productive lives. Some of the challenges will be complex, involving considerable amounts of careful thought and planning.
(Click to read more)
Fourth and Fifth grade Mathematics
Westside Elementary School
Teacher Ilana Sellari
I know teaching is my destiny: As far back as I can remember, I always wanted to be a teacher. As a child I would play school with my stuffed animals. Growing up in Nebraska I received a good secular public education and a religious education in our synagogue’s Hebrew school. However, I never felt a strong connection to any of my teachers. My parents—a college professor and a research scientist with some teaching experience—raised three girls and did an amazing job modeling effective behavior management. I experienced a balance of consistent discipline and unconditional love which prepared me for the disciplinary challenges I would face in the classroom. I graduated from the University of Memphis in 2006 and was hired by MCS to teach at Westside Elementary School. It wasn’t until I walked through the doors of Westside, as a professional teacher, that I truly knew this was my destiny. (Click to read more)
unemployed teacher and administrator
Teacher James Spraggins
Teaching is loving and serving one’s neighbors: I am a product of the Memphis City Schools System and I am proud of that fact. When I say “product,” I mean more than a graduate. My paternal grandmother, mother, father, aunt, uncle, a plethora of family members, church family and my parents’ friends all were either teachers or administrators. I grew up listening to educational stories, commiseration, and praise and pity parties. I served the Memphis City Schools System in the classroom and as an administrator for 17 years, so I feel qualified in saying that teaching is both a calling and an act of faith. I was called to teach. I served my students every day by providing them the tools to learn, think critically, develop the skills required for their futures, and cultivate strong relationships that provide a sense of belonging. (Click to read more)
Overton High School
Teacher Loretta Taras
Dealing with minds, hearts and souls: Teaching is a very difficult, challenging, and rewarding career because a teacher deals with the minds, hearts, and souls of young people. After teaching for 32 years in Memphis city schools, I meet former students all the time that remember things we discussed in class. I was fortunate to teach mostly AP English and had the opportunity to discuss many of the great works of literature that contained universal truths about life. I wanted my students to be creative thinkers so that the world could be opened for them. I had a poster in my classroom that had this saying on it: “There is no coming to consciousness without pain.” Almost every novel or play we studied, my students would point to that poster as if to say there it is again. It was so exciting to witness this understanding of a difficult concept. (Click to read more)
English and French
Sheffield High School
Teacher Cathlyn Tsirgiotis
Signposts help one to stay on the path: I never wanted to be a teacher. In fact, I finished high school in three years, shook the dust off my feet, and never looked back. My teenage dreams took me to far away places where I would do some vague “important” things and earn my Ph.D. by 25. Teaching had nothing to do with the plans I had for my life. But God had other plans, and as I worked to complete my bachelor’s degree, He began opening doors for me that led me in 1995 to accept a position at Sheffield High School, where I am entering my 17th year of teaching English and French.
Teaching at a school like Sheffield is not for the faint of heart. Over the years there have been many times when I longed to leave … but each and every time I feel this way, God sends a former student to visit me.
(Click to read more)
Seventh grade language arts
The Soulsville Charter School
Teacher Trakela Weaver
Becoming a blessing to Memphis’ children: C.S. Lewis, one of my favorite authors, once stated, “There are two kinds of people: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, “All right, then, have it your way.” I had to be the latter before I became the former.
A few months after graduation from Christian Brothers University, I found myself with no job and no direction. I took a few sales jobs, as that is what my marketing degree compelled me to do. Some opportunities I undertook after graduation were financially lucrative, but none were personally fulfilling. I had no idea where my professional career was headed. I saw my inability to secure a rewarding job was a reflection on me.
The problem was not in my resume. It was in my heart.
(Click to read more)