To be a teacher

What it means to educate at Jones College Prep


Amid a Chicago teacher shortage, teachers at Jones reflect on the challenges and rewards of their careers, as well as what led them to the profession in the first place. 

Settling into a comfortable and fulfilling career can be a challenging journey.  Many dread the dull, repetitious cycle of a nine to five desk job, and others struggle to find what they are passionate for. The daunting task of finding a suitable career can be stressful and suffocating. Still, no one has to be in the same career forever, which is what English teacher Theodore Grossman remembered when he decided to become a teacher. 

“It took me a long time to realize that teaching was not only what I was good at, but it’s something I would enjoy that had meaning both for myself and for others,” said Grossman.  “I worked in advertising for a long time, but I was never happy.” 

That fear of being stuck in an emotionally draining career is echoed by a 2017 study from Gallup, in which a mere 15 percent of workers worldwide reported feeling engaged in their job.  While this alarmingly high rate of workplace unhappiness does not always resonate with Jones teachers, some admitted to facing challenges specific to being teachers. 

“Teaching is not eight to three at all… you constantly have to check your emails,” said Jorge Perez, social science teacher.  “There’s this constant cycle of okay, this day’s done, but I have to prepare for tomorrow.” 

Another challenge cited was the lack of financial support from Chicago Public Schools (CPS). According to an article from NBC Chicago, budgeting for CPS had decreased by $30 million in the summer of 2022 due to changes in state funding. 

A different issue in the field of education comes from the lack of respect teachers feel accompanies their career. According to an EdWeek Research Center survey, the percentage of teachers across the United States who feel respected as professionals decreased dramatically from 77 percent in 2011 to 46 percent in 2022. Still, despite the many struggles of the profession, Jones teachers reported feeling fulfilled by the teaching aspect of the job. 

 “It is really fun when kids get really excited about getting something,” said Science teacher Erin Cathcara.  “To most people, math is very daunting, so the fact that kids are doing the math and getting it gets them very excited, is very fun for me.” 

Grossman also expressed similar sentiments.

“I wasn’t expecting that it would be something that made me happy,” said Grossman. “Maybe because I hadn’t been happy in a long time.”