“Don’t lose your sense of Joy!” This is the advice from the 1996 National Teacher of the Year and proclaimed “force-of-nature,” Mary Beth Blegen from Minnesota.
I recently returned from the 2014 NTOY Program Conference. It was the first national meeting of our class of State Teachers of the Year. The memorable theme that came from our last homeroom gathering was that eye-to-eye reminder from Mary Beth about the joy we must find in our roles as teachers.
The collection of our 54 teachers at the conference (this includes the U.S. Territories) was a little daunting to say the least. I cannot begin to describe this year’s journey, and yet a week ago I thought I had it pretty much figured out.
Collectively, it was comforting to realize that we are all so humbled by the honor, wondering why we are here when so many of our colleagues could teach circles around us. The question, “Why am I here?” was answered in 54 different yet important ways. When someone asked me, I simply answered, “It’s my turn.”
It’s my turn to serve. It’s my turn to remind some of the joy that brought them into teaching and lifelong learning. It’s my turn to share the voice of our teachers and students, so please tell me what you want. It’s my turn to say what I want because, whether I believe it or not, my voice has gained importance. It’s my turn to elevate music education, to remind every student, young or old, that a musical experience can simultaneously stimulate more parts of the brain than any other discipline.
We teach, all of us. Now, it’s my turn to teach in a different role, to go and do work on a scale unfathomable to this humble farm-boy-fiddle-player.
Does it bring me joy? More than words can express.
Oklahoma Teacher of the Year 2014