Jeaninne Escallier Kato is a veteran California public school educator. For the past 13 years, she has been a bilingual 4th grade teacher at First Street School in Lincoln, California. She has a Bachelor of Science in Human Services, a Master in Education and three teaching credentials. Her education has allowed her to teach students and other teachers, write articles for education and publish a children’s book.
You’ve been a teacher for 36 years. How does it feel to retire from the classroom?
“The majority of my teaching experience has been at the middle and high school levels; specifically, with at-risk populations. Teaching fourth grade in a Latino school has been the highlight of my career because I learned Spanish and adopted Mexico as my second home. I am proud of the programs I have instituted in all of the schools where I have taught. I am walking away from an incredible career with my head held high, it has been an extremely bittersweet year for me.
It’s hard to leave a calling; teaching is who I am. I started my teaching career right out of college. I always knew I would be an educator; learning was my lifeline out of poverty and a blended, chaotic family. School was the place where I flourished. My heroes have always been teachers. I was born to teach.”
What is your advice for future educators?
“My advice to someone considering teaching is: 1.) make sure you understand the ramifications of being a great teacher – long hours and working on weekends, maintain a strong character and accept meager pay; 2.) know your legal rights when confronted with angry parents and ineffective administrators; and 3.) have a strong sense of yourself to keep your students safe within a firm and fair classroom climate. If you feel confident to face these realities, teaching can be the most meaningful thing you will ever do in life. You will make a difference.”
What unique challenges do seasoned workers face?
“I am not an expert on how seasoned workers can overcome employment challenges, but I know from experience that even when some years beat me to a pulp, I never gave up. I returned to face each year anew. And, things do get better. Because I stayed in a demanding career, I am retiring with a good pension and I am young enough to seek new horizons. When I think of the lives I have affected, every moment of sacrificing blood, sweat and tears is quickly forgotten. I can die knowing why I was put on this planet. I believe that if someone is hungry enough, they can find employment doing what they love.”
Megan Bowyer is a freelance writer in search of the best food and drinks that Sacramento has to offer. You can find her at any number of dive bars or trendy restaurants; just look for the short blonde feeding the jukebox. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.