Teachers get schooled

Teachers can’t possibly understand how hard it is to be a student. Doing homework or projects that will possibly take days to finish. Having to wake up early in the morning, groaning as you have to get out of your comfortable bed. Getting no sympathy when you complain about all the things you have to do: assignments for other classes, work, family responsibilities, relationships…

Of course, it would be different if they were students themselves.

Nurse Carol Wiley, art teacher Janine Hughes, PE teacher Jorge Diaz and speech and debate coach Derek Davis are experiencing this role-reversal as they go to back to school. 

Hughes is currently enrolled in University of Fine Arts in Philadelphia studying for an Master of Fine Arts in Sculpture. 

“Trying to be an overachiever here at Kerr and go way above and beyond for my job and trying to still find time to do my own work is very difficult,” she said. 

Hughes enrolled in a ‘low-residency’ master’s program in 2010. 

“I get to live there [in Philadelphia] for three summers,” she said. “I live in the graduates’ dorm for eight weeks with a whole bunch of other people like me and we do our art program very, very intensely in the summer.” 

While rubbing elbows with the New York gallery crowd, Hughes is amazed to be able to meet professional artists first-hand. 

“It’s very cool to have somebody that you’ve been worshipping from afar…in my own studio, critiquing my own work.” 

Davis currently attends University of Texas in Arlington, aiming for his Masters in Business and Educational Studies. 

“For the last 16 years, I kept putting it off…,” Davis said. “Now I’m pursuing my Masters and I hope to get my Doctorate one day, so I can be called ‘Dr. D.’” 

Davis takes classes online and says he enjoys the advantages of doing work at his own pace. 

“I’ve always been busy with the speech team and classes,” Davis said. “Now, as you can see, I’m always working…I’ve just been online to get classes done. It’s been a challenge to be able to spend time with students and with class work and get everything done that you need to do.” 

Wiley attends classes with a friend who works at Youngblood Middle School. 

“Basically, I looked at a lot of different places…” Wiley said. “[But my friend] is a Texas fan. Her degrees have been through the University of Texas and she goes, ‘We have to go to the University of Texas in Tyler.’” 

Like Davis, Wiley is taking some classes online, and said it is challenging to go back to school after many years outside of the classroom. But she has high goals, including expanding her career choices. 

“Once I pass and get my degree in Nursing Education, it will give me the opportunity to hold anadministrative office here in the district,” she said. “Or if I want to, I can leave the district totally and go to a university, teaching new prospective nurses how to be a nurse.” 

Diaz is also interested in other job options as he furthers his education. Currently he is working to get a Masters in Business Administration at the University of Houston in Victoria. 

“I’m in the pursuit of more ‘dinero.’ I got to go for the ‘gusto,’” Diaz laughed. “Benjamins, baby!” 

But while a new degree could lead to a new job, not every teacher who goes back to school wants a career change. 

In two and a half years, Hughes will be qualified to teach art at the university level. However, she doesn’t know if she wants to do that. 

“I kind of like high school,” she said. “I’m just doing this for myself and my own artwork, and I think if I continue to strive to do better artwork for myself, I’ll be a better teacher overall.”