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Why Do I Teach?

Sandy Merz Current Affairs, Education, Life in the Classroom, Professional Development, Teacher Leadership, Uncategorized

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On the third day of school I asked students, “Besides money, what is the one thing that you personally have to get from a job?” I thought it was a good question to begin our unit on career explorations.

I didn’t predict their answers would also help me with the question: Why do I teach?

But when I read them, I knew that they did.

I combined my students’ most relevant answers into the following paragraph. Each bold word or phrase is from a different student.

So, Why do I teach?

I teach because I like teaching; teaching is exciting. Teaching makes me happy and a better person, while I, in turn, have the opportunity  to make others happy. Plus, I get tons of respect along the way. Teaching is fun and I want to do it because it gives me enjoyment to work with a great bunch of good coworkers and bosses in a challenging environment. Plus, I meet new people to socialize with every year. Although I comply with policy and have contract hours, I have tremendous autonomy in executing my obligations. That makes me fee like my own boss and that I set my own hours. Even after 28 years (each one of which has brought at least some success), I’m still gaining experience, knowledge, and maintaining a good attitude. I accomplish something by teaching: I see students grow competent in algebra, promote policies until they’re adopted, and help facilitate the growth of the teacher leader movement.

I owe my students a big thank you for helping me analyze and evaluate my skills, desires, and options and conclude that teaching is the best option for me.


I grew up in Silver City, New Mexico and went the University of New Mexico, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Geology. After working for the U.S. Geological Survey in remote regions of western New Mexico, I moved to Tucson to attend graduate school at the University of Arizona, earning a Master of Science degree in Hydrogeology. While working as an intern hydrologist for a local county agency, I started doing volunteer work that involved making presentations in schools. At that moment I knew teaching was the path to follow. It must have been a good decision because I’m still on the path after thirty-two years. My teaching certificates are in math and science and I am a National Board Certified Teacher in Career and Technical Education. After teaching engineering and math and elective classes at the same school in downtown Tucson my whole career, I've moved to a different middle school and district on the edge of town to teach math. In addition to full time teaching, I am actively involved in the teacher leadership movement by facilitating National Board candidates, blogging for Stories from School Arizona, and serving on the Arizona K12 Center’s TeacherSolutions team. In January 2017, Raytheon Missile System named me a Leader in Education and I'm a former Arizona Hope Street Fellow.

Comments 4

  1. Jen Robinson

    Sandy, thanks for this post. As week four comes to a close I wonder why I teach, lead, etc. Every day is different and not one the same… but yes, exciting and fulfilling.

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