A Kindergarten teacher is getting an assembly of praises this week after her honest post about the real reason she left her job as a public educator has taken social media by storm.
Jessica Gentry says she loves children. But even a passionate desire to mold young minds wasn’t enough to keep her in the job she’s held for the last 12 years.
The former kindergarten teacher from Harrisonburg, Virginia, took to Facebook last week with a now-viral post detailing the mental and physical sacrifice that ultimately led her to walk away from teaching altogether.
“Let me tell you why those who ooze passion for teaching are leaving the occupation like their hair is on fire,” Gentry writes.
“I think it’s easier for people to believe that I left teaching because of the lousy pay. It was easier for my former HR director to believe it was because I found something that I was more passionate about.”
Gentry lists out the five main reasons she left her job.
None of which had to do with the pay.
The filter comes off now.
I think it’s easier for people to believe that I left teaching because of the lousy pay. …
Posted by Jessica Gentry on Thursday, June 13, 2019
1. Lack of Parental Involvement and Responsibility
“The old excuse ‘the kids have changed.’ No. No friggin way. Kids are kids. PARENTING has changed. SOCIETY has changed. The kids are just the innocent victims of that. Parents are working crazy hours, consumed by their devices, leaving kids in unstable parenting/co-parenting situations, terrible media influences… and we are going to give the excuse that the KIDS have changed?“
Gentry says for many of her students, the classroom is the first place they’re being told ‘no,’ because of the lack of intentionality and relationships at home.
What’s worse is that she’s even had parents tell her that she’s not allowed to tell their child, ‘no.’
2. Sacrificing Relationships for Technology
As if our children aren’t struggling enough to understand appropriate behavior and social cues, Gentry says that schools are pushing harder and harder this technology agenda in an attempt to be “21st Century” schools.
“Forget the basics of relationship building and hands-on learning. Kids already can’t read social cues and conduct themselves appropriately in social settings,” she says, “Let’s toss more devices at them because it looks good on our website.”
She says teaching is no longer dependent on how well you manage and TEACH kids, but rather, your ability to use technology.
3. Robbing Teachers of Planning Time to Push Technological Growth
“And since our technology approach doesn’t seem to be working, teachers must need more training,” Gentry writes.
She says in order to keep up with the demand, schools are taking away valuable planning time from teachers and requiring them to miss precious classroom time with students for useless training that renders no return on investment.
4. Teachers Are at the Mercy of Parents
With teaching comes a partnership with the parents — as the two main groups of adults who are pouring into the same children. But that partnership is no longer a given.
“Instead of holding parents accountable… and making them true partners, we’ve adopted a customer service mindset.”
Rather than working together as influential adults to lead a child in the right direction, it’s become an all-out war of parents versus teachers.
“I’ve seen the Facebook rants about attendance and getting ‘the letter.’ Well, here’s the thing… I can’t teach your child if he’s not in school,” she writes. “I was cussed out by parents who wanted to attend field trips but missed the THREE notes that went home — and when they did attend a trip, sat on their phone the entire time. I’ve had parents stand me up multiple times on Conference Days then call to tattle on me when I refused to offer an after-school option.”
5. Mental and Physical Well-being
All of that boils down to the shell of a woman that’s left at the end of the day. Gentry says it all put her mental and physical health in jeopardy “Every. Single. Day.”
“Knowing that your kids need and deserve more than they’re getting. Sitting in one meeting after another, begging for more support, only to be told ‘don’t lose sleep over them’… when you LOVE your kids and are PASSIONATE about your mission… these messages tear you apart.
“Watching them come in… dirty clothes… chaos at home… and knowing they need more than you can give them in a classroom of 21, with less and less support, multiple languages spoken, several different disabilities… it breaks you. We become emotional eaters. We become couch potatoes to zone out. We become so short fused that our families suffer.”
And ultimately, that’s what led Gentry to walk away from her retirement and 46 paid sick days.
“I didn’t leave for better pay,” she writes. “I decided to start with my 1 at home… and work to help other mommas be able to show up for their ones at home. Because… I really do believe it starts there.”
Her passionate and brutally honest words have been shared more than 173,000 times in the last week, garnering a myriad of praise from teachers and parents alike.
Many shared in their sadness that such a “wonderfully caring teacher” has been lost to the classroom, while others shouted praises of agreement from their own experiences in the world of education and beyond.
“There is an enormous amount of educators who feel that exact way but have felt alone and guilty for thinking so,” Gentry told Good Morning America. “I never expected it to reach farther than a few friends — but I am so humbled to be able to throw the curtains open on the issue and give those who feel unable to say it a voice.”