Betsy Rogers, a 20-year teaching veteran from Alabama, was named National Teacher of the Year in 2003. Ms. Rogers spent her year as National Teacher traveling the country and talking with educators about her belief that the best way to close the equity gap is to put the strongest teachers in the weakest schools. After finishing her tour, Ms. Rogers decided to practice what she preached, choosing to work at Brighton Elementary School, the “neediest school” in Jefferson County, Alabama. In this opinion blog, Ms. Rogers reflected on her year at Brighton, and how her experience there meshed with her expectations. (Views reflected herein are strictly those of Ms. Betsy Rogers.) This blog is no longer being updated.
As I continue to share my journey, I realize I have had very few positive things to say about my first year at Brighton. To be honest, I felt there was not much to smile about during the first semester. In fact right before Christmas, one of our teachers told me I had lost my smile and they needed it back. This truly broke my heart. To add to this pain, my principal told me that the teachers did not want me at Brighton. As harsh as this seemed at the time, I needed to understand that much of the attention I brought to the school was more hurtful to the faculty than helpful. I also had to acknowledge to myself that “my dream” for Brighton may not be the correct path for the school and I may not be the right person for this job.
Joe’s comment to my last post is a perfect intro as I continue the story of my metamorphosis. If any of you are of my generation and remember the cartoon Mighty Mouse, you will understand I came to my school with the Mighty Mouse attitude, “Here I come to save the day!” This created much resentment for my being there in spite of what I could bring to the school because I really did not have a clue about what it meant to work in a school labeled failure and the teachers knew it.