- Sponsorship -

Three Best Things About Teaching

August 18, 7:43 a.m: My shirt sticks to my back and I, like many others, hope for some rain to break the string of 90-degree days with high humidity.

As I walk the incredibly clean but stifling hallways of Northview High School, HVAC units shut down to save energy, I’m certain all who are following me pray our destination, the auditorium, is air-conditioned.

More than 200 high school administrators, counselors and teachers are here for a day-long seminar about the SAT. This on a day that screams LAKE MICHIGAN to anyone with the freedom to dictate their calendar.

Those outside of education probably believe this SAT Summit is an outlier, the rare summer conference important enough to draw educators off the beaches and out of their “up north” cottages and air-conditioned homes.

Must be, because we all know the three best things about teaching are June, July and August, right? These months are precious in Michigan, as we typically boast some of the best summer weather in the nation.

But they’re not the three best things about teaching. They represent the restoration and renewal season in the unique, circadian rhythm of education.

Are teachers glad to have a break from the classroom? No less than the students they teach. Do they get away for time for themselves and their family? I hope so. Does it extend all three months? Only for a very few.

Most teachers use some or all of their summer to improve their skills in workshops, college classes or collaborative projects for their district or the entire region through curriculum development and other initiatives at Kent ISD.

By summer’s end, Kent ISD alone will have hosted more than a quarter of the region’s teachers in one or more of the 96 summer workshops and professional development sessions scheduled during the summer months. By mid August, some 1,700 teachers and administrative staff — including the more than 200 attending the SAT Summit — had attended a professional development program.

Teacher salaries and benefits have come under a great deal of scrutiny in recent years.  In conversations concerning compensation, critics cite the school calendar as consolation for relatively low wages. “They get the summer off,” is the common response to Michigan’s average starting teacher salary of $35,901. At just under $36,000 — a salary slightly higher than that paid by many West Michigan districts — entry-level teacher compensation doesn’t even make the list of average professional salary levels compiled annually by Michigan State University Collegiate Employment Research Institute. Phil Gardner, who heads the institute, finds the average starting professional salary at just over $39,000, with electrical engineers topping out at just over $57,000 and advertising, social work and psychology bringing up the rear with entry level salaries at or near $37,000.

For anyone concerned about our future — the children we’re educating in our schools — it is pretty clear our schools are not likely attracting the best and brightest young professionals to the classroom if their motivation is money.

Fortunately, for most who aspire to a career in education, it’s a calling, much like the ministry or the human service caring professions. For them, the three best things about teaching are interacting with children, changing lives through education and making a difference in their communities, one student at a time.


- Sponsorship -
Ron Koehler
Ron Koehler
Ron Koehler is the Kent ISD Assistant Superintendent and offers his commentary on issues in education. Read Ron's full bio


Vaccine trial participant: ‘I really want to get back to normal’

Orchestra teacher and cellist Eric Hudson longs for the days when he can direct student musicians in concerts and tours and play in his own ensemble once again. To help speed that process along, he is participating in a COVID-19 vaccine trial...

Longtime agriscience teacher earns honorary FFA degree

After 24 years of teaching, John Schut believes incorporating fun and service into education is more engaging for students than taking notes in a classroom...

Stress, studies and the pandemic: a steep learning curve

In response to the social and emotional impacts brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic, Rockford’s Developing Healthy Kids Campaign wants students and families to know they are not alone...

Health Department helps schools tackle challenges of instruction, during winter, in a pandemic

Working with the health department has been crucial in helping area school leaders understand the nature of COVID-19, the types of mitigation strategies that can be most effective and how to plan for the future...


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Related Articles

Career education expert takes on new Kent ISD assistant superintendent position

Amid COVID-19, Sue Gardner took on a brand new role as Kent ISD assistant superintendent helping to administer and support the existing high school programs and help start new ones...

Have cart, will travel

A Southeast Kelloggsville Elementary music teacher has a new cart for her ukuleles, thanks to her school, her husband and the Kent Career Tech Center...

KCTC and KTC Core students roll up their sleeves to help reduce water runoff at Kent ISD

The water from the Kent ISD area feeds into the Lamberton Creek watershed. The plants will aid in reducing the amount added to the creek...
- Sponsorship -


Engagement: The Most Important Measure of Student Success

Polls find that students’ engagement in their school work declines as they ascend the grades. Tests that don’t relate to their real-life experiences exacerbate the problem...


Food ‘angels’ support hungry kids through pandemic

They work all across Kent County, guardian angels with peanut butter on their hands and crumbs on their shirtsleeves...
- Sponsorship -


Maranda Where You LiveWGVU