Maribeth Whitehouse is a special education teacher at IS 190 in the Bronx. She is in her ninth year of teaching eighth grade.
I teach because …
…of my students. Each of them is a gift, even if they don’t know it or act like it.
…no matter how good I get, the crafting of an excellent teacher never ends. It demands a lot from me all the time, and I like that.
…there are moments and experiences with my students that are electric, addictive and imprinted in my mind.
…the process of learning to trust one another as teachers and learners is unique and intricately beautiful.
…I can ignite a new passion or enrich a long-held one, the potential of which reaches beyond the limits of my own life.
…our democracy cannot survive without citizens capable of critical analysis. I am proud to be charged with amplifying justice.
…my students stand on the precipice of greatness. Instilling an unwillingness to compromise on excellence, searching for the kernel of their truth, showing them ways to use their talents to improve the lives of others – I am honored to teach life lessons.
…I am challenged daily by my students to grow in compassion and wisdom.
…I can’t do anything else. I don’t mean “can’t” as in “those who can do and those who can’t – teach.” I mean that post-9/11, I couldn’t continue in a job that failed to promote positive transformative change in the world.
…when students accidentally call me “Mom,” I am reminded that guiding children as they mature in thought, word and deed may be the single most important mission ever given to me.
When people hear that I teach special-education students in a South Bronx middle school, they often shake their heads and say, “God bless you.” To which I say, “He already did.”