A few years ago I was getting a haircut in the Hollywood District when my barber asked me what I did for a living. “I teach 12th graders,” I replied. He then said, “Whoa, do they give you combat pay for that?”
I chuckled at his comment, assuming he was joking. He wasn’t. He went on to talk about how it must be difficult to work with high school students, and how I probably was on the fast track to sainthood for spending my days with them. I didn’t dispute him because it was a sentiment that I had heard before. I could see it any time I sat on the MAX on my way home from Gresham, and watched adults wince whenever a gaggle of teens entered the car. This always struck me as strange, because I loved teaching high school students, and even on my worst day in the classroom, I felt I was doing critical work for our nation’s future (and having a lot of fun in the process).