On June 12th, the DW Steele chapter of the Air Force Association named a preK-6th grade science teacher named Jason Pittman, from Alexandria, Virginia, “Aerospace Teacher of the Year“. General Mark Welsh, chief of staff of the Air Force, came in person to thank Pittman for his service to his country — for choosing to teach. Pittman was very touched, as he told Ira Glass from This American Life. “I couldn’t bring myself to say that this was going to be my last week of teaching.”
Pittman chose teaching over a previous career in tech because he loved it, and loved the kids. This is apparent in his storytelling (he’s also a champion of the local Story League). He’s been teaching for 10 years and he’s won a bunch of awards. Michelle Obama visited his class. He was commended by the state Senate.
The problem is, he teaches science to underprivileged kids in low income neighborhoods of the Fairfax County Schools, and the money that supports his position is rocky. So rocky that five years ago, the community he works in started a non-profit to raise money from local businesses and keep him at their school. It’s a big second job to run around raising cash to support your first job. It just got to be too many jobs, he said.
Ira Glass Do you feel like you’re doing a good job and you feel like you have to grovel?
Jason Pittman [LAUGHS]
Ira Glass Is that too strong? Is that word too strong?
Jason Pittman No, that’s exactly what it feels like. And we are not allowed to say that. We’re not allowed to say that we feel like that.
This American Life#497: This Week, aired 06.14.2013
The 6 minute segment aired on NPR a week ago last Friday, June 14th, and is still available for streaming if you hustle.