Coffee With

Dr. Judy

Why I Teach

by Judy Richardson | Published March 23, 2021

Chapter One: I never planned to be a teacher.

A summary of my life story is well captured in this quote by John Lennon: Life is what happenswhen you are busy making other plans.

I was born in 1942 and went to school in the 50’s. Women who sought a career had few choices in a world where the little woman stayed home, vacuumed in her heels and pearls, and was expected to support her husband, the bread winner. If you wanted to work outside the home after WWII (which saw women doing everything a man did because most men were at war) you could be a nurse or a teacher. Plan to stay single, especially if you wanted to teach.

In elementary school all my teachers were women. A couple were married but most were single and the stereo type maiden ladies,

When we took our required 9th grade civics course, I had wanted to research a career as a doctor. The teacher nixed that idea, so I reported on Medical Technician instead. The teacher told me he thought I would make an excellent teacher. I was not interested.

While I love school, since it was pretty easy for me, I had no intention of ever making teaching my career.

I attended a Technical High School, mostly because my friends went there. I choose Commercial Art as my career area and loved my journalism and photography courses. When I graduated and started college, my goal was to be a journalist. After taking an introductory course in journalism, I decided to change my major to English. A female faculty member told me to forget trying to get into journalism, most women were delegated to proofreading copy and going for coffee. She did encourage me to continue to hone my writing skills.

My father, ever the pragmatist, insisted I take the necessary courses to qualify as a teacher. He insisted that “No child of mine is going to get a four-year degree and not be able to get a job.’

So, I did a supervised student teaching after taking all the required hours and earned my teaching certificate to teach English.

Following graduation, I married my high school sweetheart and began writing my first novel. I liked the idea of science fiction and even thought about writing a mystery story.

A few short months later, I widowed and pregnant. Yes, life happened while I was making other plans. I was more than thankful that I had that teaching certificate. I would soon have a child to support. So, with a mother willing to take a leave of absence from her job to take care of my baby, I began my teaching career.

NOTE: This is the first chapter of my teaching memories story. I will continue posting it as I write it. If you would like to share why you decided to be a teacher, and any memories our readers would enjoy, please do. There is so much turmoil in education today, and it has been years since I was in the trenches. Please share your thoughts and offer questions for discussion.

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