Although I don't live in Geneva, I do consider Geneva High School home because for the last 30 years, I have taught English and history here. It wasn't my intention to grow up as a teacher and as a person in the halls of this high school, but that is exactly what happened.
Despite my enthusiasm, my first teaching experience in another district left me feeling frustrated and doubting my decision to be an educator. I left that job and was offered a job at a publishing house when I got a call from the assistant principal at Geneva asking me to interview for a one-year position. Geneva District 304 turned out to be a magical place.
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This school district was a team made up of teachers, parents, administrators and school board. The community was proud of its schools and its teachers. Teachers and employees bragged about being part of such a special place. Each piece of the team helped solve problems.
Teachers today do not have a voice in finding solutions to district problems. That is one of the many issues that is part of the negotiating process. Teachers want to find creative solutions to district problems, and we are begging to be part of the process. Most teachers did not have a voice or a vote in passing the referendums that put the district in debt, but we are expected to carry the burden and pay for those decisions.
Last year, I had one class that had five sons and daughters of former students in it. It was so exciting to see people who I had first known as 16-year-olds become parents of such wonderful and responsible teenagers. However, I also realize that this is not the school of our future. The best and brightest teachers will not stay in a district where that teamwork does not exist.