Most of the time, I don't consider myself a teacher. Instead, I really do see myself as a resource or facilitator who provides an opportunity for students to find their voices.
Being a creative writing teacher (along with AP literature and college writing), I am honored with the opportunity to show students how to write about parts of their lives or themselves that they never thought they could express. As a result, I am invited into their lives through their words, and often, my life is changed as a result. One year, the class was an outlet for a girl — Christina — whose mother died of breast cancer when my student was a small child. She later told me that no one asked her the questions that I did; she never thought much about how her mother's death affected her and how much she grew as a result of her expression. Christa is now an English teacher with the hopes of becoming a creative writing teacher, too.
Another student grieved the loss of his brother by writing poetry. Recently, a good 10 years later, he told me that had it not been for poetry and writing it all down, he didn't think he could have survived that unbearable grief.
And it's not all heavy subject matter that students feel compelled to share; some students simply haven't had the opportunity to express their silly sides or their unique senses of humor.
Being a teacher allows me to help my students find their voices. It allows me to grow with each graduating class and to learn something new every day, whether it's about my profession or myself. Being a teacher allows me to be fully myself — a caring and sensitive person — while helping young people grow into the same.
I am so incredibly proud to be a teacher in this country. And I am so incredibly necessary.
(Denise Trach is a member of the Carmel Teachers Association.)