#LATeacherVoice / / Amanda Braswell: “In Education, There Is No Sideline”

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Amanda Braswell, English Language Arts and Content Leader at Elm Grove Middle School, is a LEAD Fellow with Louisiana Stand For Children.

Teaching young adults, teens and tweens, is not just a career for me. It is my passion. I absolutely LOVE helping students grasp difficult skills such as writing essays and reading challenging texts, and watching my students succeed derives from hard work and dedication. I live for the moments when a student says, “I actually liked writing that essay now that I know how to do, and it’s because of you” or “I moved up FOUR reading levels in half of a year because of you.” Yes, I would love to take all of the credit, but I always reply, “No, you did it!”  Teaching was not my second or third choice as a career. I chose to be a teacher because I wanted to change lives. I am a daughter of a teacher, a sister to a teacher, a cousin to a teacher, as well as a niece to a teacher; not to mention a granddaughter to my Granny who drove a school bus for Bossier schools. I was raised and molded by educators, and I would not have it any other way.  

As a product of Bossier Schools and now a teacher in the parish (I spent my K-12th grade years in our school system), I have seen many teachers do some amazing activities with their students. Most of the time, the materials necessary were purchased out of teacher’s own pockets. I know I have spent countless amounts of my own hard-earned money to purchase books for our classroom library, so the “I can’t check out a book because I owe a fine to the library” is avoided because students can check out books from my classroom bookshelf and keep them as long as they like. Every year, at least one third of my precious novels magically disappear and never return. So, every year, I purchase more books for the next group of 100 students, so they may have the same opportunities to find a novel in which they are actually interested. And so this yearly process continues all in my vision and mission of pushing students to love reading and of course, to achieve higher reading comprehension as this is a necessary life skill for their futures.

Other than novels and books, I purchase paper, pencils, pens, jackets, school uniforms, food, spirit shirts, etc. for those in need because kids, especially by middle school, are more aware of what they have and don’t have compared to others around them; and not having everything one needs can cause students to shut down, not participate, and sadly, fail their classes. This teacher pay raise will help teachers help students more than one could imagine.

Although I am very passionate about helping my students in their paths to success, I am also very passionate about my own personal, future goals of buying a home (I’ve been renting for years now) and starting a family. I am not sure as to how I will be able to afford all of my own needs as well as continue to provide for my students whether it be books, supplies, or just a snack for someone who did not have anything to eat. Some may say, “You don’t have to do that. That’s not your job.” It is my job. My job is to care for our children and help them in any way feasible. I cannot and will not sit on the sideline and watch as students who are in need go without. I didn’t choose this career to go to work and come home early every day. Instead, I chose to walk a path that leaves a legacy of students who felt loved, accepted, and supported by their teacher.

I chose this career so I could be an active participant in the lives of thousands of children and guide them through their daily struggles, successes, problems, and emotions. (Countless amounts of emotions in middle school.)  I am here for my students in more ways than simply delivering the English curriculum and spouting out information, and my students know this because they see that I love and care about them every single day. To me, supporting the Bossier Schools salary proposition is the support I need to continue my mission to make a difference in the lives of my students.

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