BY CHRISTOPHER GOMEZ
As families from across the nation share their stories of the importance of education and why school choice matters in recognition of this week’s National School Choice Week, I want to explain it from a teacher’s point of view. This week is set aside to educate communities about effective educational options, which include public schools, private schools, homeschooling, and charter management organizations.
When it comes to school choice, I am reminded of the choice I made to become a teacher and the choice my students make every day to commit to success.
I have seen firsthand the benefits and the opportunities that are offered to children who are able to choose a school that best fits their needs. This is a right that all families deserve and is a reason I decided to join the IDEA Public Schools team, a public charter school family that is currently educating more than 36,000 students across the Rio Grande Valley, Austin, San Antonio, and soon to be in El Paso and Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
I worked a desk job for 10 years in the business sector before I transitioned into education, on the suggestion of my mother, who is also an educator. I was born and raised in Edinburg and like many in the Rio Grande Valley, I’d heard of the great things IDEA Public Schools was doing for its students. So, on a whim, and on the nudges from my mother, I switched careers and started my education career as a co-teacher at IDEA.
Fast forward a few years, and I’ve grown more confident in my teaching, developed a love for working with kids, and finished my teacher’s license program. I am now a lead teacher, guiding 28 budding students as they learn how to write. We play grammar games, memorize our conjunctions via song, and use them to create our own complex sentences. We develop brainstorming anchor charts together, organize persuasive arguments about the importance of recycling, and tell our very own personal narratives. For expository, step-by-step writing, we set up our own campsite on school grounds — erecting our tent and rolling out the sleeping bag — so that we’re able to more vividly write about it.
IDEA provides these opportunities and opens students’ eyes to a world of possibilities. Even at the elementary level, I have witnessed the commitment IDEA has made to developing all students for success in college and in life. I’ve learned that education works best when it’s synonymous with having fun and developing worthwhile experiences. I’m proud to say that my students have gone on to score exemplary results on state writing tests, proving mastery of the subject, and paving the way to be great writers in whatever field they may pursue in high school, college and beyond.
I’m a teacher who brims with excitement, who loves what he does, and is so glad he made the career choice to switch from working at a desk all day to teaching children how to write. Just as I chose to become a teacher, my students, and their parents, chose to be part of the IDEA team and family.
I am fortunate to have the ability to choose what I want to do for a living. I want all of my students to be just as fortunate, to go out into the world and be whatever they want to be, and choose the best path for their education and life. I’m glad to be doing my part to help, through education, and through writing.