We know that teachers have to be passionate. The pay is low, the work load is great, the responsibility is high. Read any honest teacher's blog and you'll find stories of being treated like a second-class citizen. There are people who understand teachers (warning: some profanity), but teachers still have to have passion to survive amongst the people who don't understand.
But teachers aren't the only ones.
I couldn't be the member of a school district's support staff if I didn't have passion. I believe in the power of education. It's not just baby-sitting, and it's not even just society's best chance to break the cycle of poverty; it's a gift that all children deserve every year.
That's why I work hard. I lighten the load on teachers. Your webpage is broken? I'm going to do the legwork to solve that problem, you go teach, and I'll email you when I'm done so you can call me because if I call you it would interrupt your class. I spread the word about every success, so teachers and students can value themselves. Three kids in kindergarten recited the alphabet backwards? There's a 12th grader who always holds the door open? Send me a picture, it's going on the website. I make everyday events into magical experiences. You forgot your camera? Let me take four special pictures of you on stage with your kid and his award and I email the best one to the parents, after I remove the red eye and fix the colors, and in the email I tell them that their kid did great and that they should be proud and that parent involvement makes the difference.
I'm passionate about supporting education, and I want to infuse all my work with that passion.
And sometimes that passion has to carry me. When I'm meeting my friend's friends and they have PhD's or corporate salaries and I say I do web work for a school district....and their eyes say "so not only can you not do, you can't teach either?"
Or when the state cuts the budget and there are going to be layoffs and the only thing that every comment on every online news story seems to agree on is "we have to protect the teachers, and we have to protect my money from taxes, so they should fire all the support staff!" (Even though the reality is that "Texas could fire ... all 329,574 non-teacher jobs - and still not save the $11.6 billion in public education cuts...")
That's when my passion for education has to carry me.