I am a Teacher

I’ve been asked many times over the years why I don’t teach. And what they’re referring to, is teaching in a formal educational institute. A teacher at a school. A teacher who gets paid to school pupils on subjects like English, history, politics. I would be good at it, they say. And they’re right. I would be. I have taught–I have been a teacher in formal educational environments. I started teaching at a much younger age than the vast majority of teachers.

I was nine when I became a teacher. My mother chose to homeschool my younger brother and I when I started the fourth grade. But soon after that, there was an accident. My mother was trampled by a horse, and her back was broken. She was bedridden for months, and in addition to being her caretaker during the day, I also took over homeschooling my younger brother. I was good at it, considering my age, maturity, other responsibilities, and the limitations imposed by age, lack of resources, and other responsibilities.

I taught at church–Vacation Bible School during the summers. The four and five year olds were put together in one class, and I was in charge of the four year olds.

I taught in Civil Air Patrol–training cadets in leadership, drill and ceremonies, military customs and courtesies, military history, and other subjects.

By the time I gained my majority, before many of my peers who are now professional teachers began their education and training to become teachers, I had been a teacher for many years.

When people ask me that question–why don’t I teach–I usually brush it off with a joke, along the lines of it not being my thing, or that I had already had my fill of teaching. It’s simpler that way.

But the truth is, I am a teacher. I learned many, many lessons in my time as a cadet in Civil Air Patrol, but one of the lessons that I have carried with me is this: I am a leader. I am a representative [of Civil Air Patrol]. People are always watching, whether or not you are formally representing [Civil Air Patrol]. People will judge the merits and value of [Civil Air Patrol] by your speech, your behavior, and your values.

I am no longer a member of Civil Air Patrol (for now) but I am a leader. I represent my values, my beliefs, my education by my speech and actions.

There are two kinds of leaders: what I call “go ahead” leaders, and “follow me” leaders. I am a “follow me” leader. I lead by example. I don’t expect anything from others that I don’t also expect from myself. I don’t give myself passes or empathy that I wouldn’t also give to others.

I am also a teacher. At the moment, I do not teach in any formal environment, but I will always be a teacher. Teachers and leaders are one and the same.

The only difference is, some of us get paid to do so, and others don’t.