If you are one of those folks who thinks your voice doesn’t matter, or you can sit this election out because it isn’t a presidential year – think again.
Nikole Miller is a student, a future teacher and most importantly a constituent who believes in holding her elected representatives accountable. Today we asked Miller to share why she’s committed to being a #NCEdVoter and casting her ballot on Election Day. (North Carolina’s general election is this Tuesday, November 6th. You can look up your polling site here.)
It never fails—the look of horror on peoples’ faces when I tell them I have chosen to be a middle school teacher in the public school system for my career. And it is usually followed with the question: “Umm, why middle school?” I smile, knowing that they just don’t understand and shake my head yes before saying “Actually, middle schoolers are wonderful! They get a bad rap.” Most people don’t believe me, and, in good southern fashion, bless me for my willingness to persevere.
Though people paint being a middle school teacher as a burden, I see it as quite an honor. I get to be a part of children’s lives during a crucial part of their development. I get to see children transition from learning to read to reading to learn, reading about their passions and the things they truly love. And most importantly, as a middle school teacher, I will be part of raising the next generation.
When I entered into education, there were three reasons why I chose the middle school level, LaTisha McHenry, Rebecca McKnight, and Carolyn Reeves. These vivacious, ground-breaking, risk-taking, devoted, and innovative women inspired me, encouraged me, and guided me. As educators, these women went to the ends of the earth for students, including me, when the public school system came up short. They took the time to listen and help us forge our own paths. And each one of them worked tirelessly to craft intricate and engaging lessons (I can still remember some of my favorite ones today). The lessons went beyond the basic curriculum required by law, and these teachers ensured that we were not impacted by negative legislation, like No Child Left Behind.
As a student, future teacher, and constituent, I am often saddened by the United States’ treatment of public education, and especially North Carolina’s. Funding continues to be cut, resources reallocated to purchase firearms, and as a result, influential teachers leave. Many pressing problems exist in the world right now, and many things need our political attention—I get that—but by putting individuals with personal and political agendas into office, funding cuts will continue, more scripted curriculums will be instituted, and we will successfully remove building blocks and learning opportunities from children who could contribute to solutions. We need education—our future depends on it. So, as you go to vote this November, think about the future you’d like to be a part of and vote pro-public education candidates into office.
Nikole Miller is studying Middle Grades Education – Language Arts/Social Studies at NC State University.