“Mustangs Ahead” is asking teachers “Why do you teach?” This segment by Paige Venuto is about LRHS English teacher Candice DeLazzer.
(LAKEWOOD RANCH, FL) – My original degree was a BS in journalism, and then I decided that I wanted to teach, so I went back to get my BS in Education. That way I could teach English and journalism. I began by teaching swimming lessons in my hometown over the summer for about 10 years. I realized that I missed working with young people, so I went into education, hoping to teach journalism and English.
I began teaching English at Southeast High School in January of 1975. When the journalism/yearbook and newspaper adviser quit after my first full year, I applied for her job, so I began teaching sophomore/junior English, journalism I and being the adviser of the school newspaper and yearbook. I did both for about 10 years (Mr. Honsa was my high school newspaper editor!) and then finally gave up the newspaper to concentrate on advising the yearbook only. I also began teaching just seniors at about the same time.
The best part of my job is working with young people – I love to see a student who has been struggling with a concept “get it” all of a sudden. It’s great to see their excitement when they realize that they can understand a difficult piece of literature after all. The worst part about my job is all the testing and the rigid curriculum that the county office dictates we teach. When I began teaching we were free to use whatever resources we had available as long as we taught the standards that were in the course from the state Department of Education. Now it seems as almost every week I have multiple students absent from my class due to state mandated testing – which means that they are missing the content and material we are covering.
We also are given a very detailed curriculum with mandatory materials, along with a timeline and step-by-step instructions on how to teach a piece of literature. It may be helpful for a beginning teacher who is just finding her way in the classroom, but it feels stifling to someone who has taught for many years and knows which strategies have worked in the past and which have not. I wish I did not feel so confined by our curriculum that I can’t include any of the past works that both I and the students enjoyed so much – if I did, then I wouldn’t be able to finish all the district says I must cover in each quarter or unit. I think that this makes classes less enjoyable for the students; if they enjoy learning in high school, hopefully they will become life-long learners, and that’s what education is truly about.