A brutally honest kindergarten teacher shares five reasons why she quit the profession
via Jessica Gentry / Facebook

Teachers in modern-day America face a whole host of problems. Under-funded schools, low pay, union busting, an overemphasis on standardized testing, and children who are addicted to technology.

But it seems the biggest problem for many teachers is dealing with parents.

"Today, new teachers remain in our profession an average of just 4.5 years, and many of them list 'issues with parents' as one of their reasons for throwing in the towel," Ron Clark, motivation speaker and author of five,books on education, said in a CNN editorial.

"Word is spreading, and the more negativity teachers receive from parents, the harder it becomes to recruit the best and the brightest out of colleges," Clark continued.

Jessica Gentry, a former kindergarten teacher for 12 years at at Stone Spring Elementary School in Harrisonburg, Virginia, wrote a viral Facebook thread about why she's left the profession and says that parents were a major reason.

"I think it's easier for people to believe that I left teaching because of the lousy pay," she wrote in a post last June that received over 270,000 reactions and 220,000 shares.

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"It was easier for my former HR director to believe it was because I found something that I was more passionate about. Some would allow them to assume that... let them be comfortable in their assumptions because your truth may lead to discomfort of others," she continued.


Gentry made a list of five major reasons why she left the profession and she held absolutely nothing back. Here is an edited version of her five reasons, you can read the whole post here.

1. The old excuse "the kids have changed". No. No friggin way. Kids are kids. PARENTING has changed. SOCIETY has changed. The kids are just the innocent victims of that. Parents are working crazy hours, consumed by their devices, leaving kids in unstable parenting/coparenting situations, terrible media influences... and we are going to give the excuse that the KIDS have changed?

2. In the midst of all of this... our response is we need to be "21st Century" schools. 1 to 1 student to technology. Oh. Okay. So forget the basics of relationship building and hands on learning. Kids already can't read social cues and conduct themselves appropriately in social settings... let's toss more devices at them because it looks good on our website.

3. And since our technology approach doesn't seem to be working, teachers must need more training. So take away two planning periods a week. And render that time utterly worthless when it comes to ADDING to the quality of the instruction.

4. Instead of holding parents accountable... and making them true partners, we've adopted a customer service mindset. I've seen the Facebook rants about attendance and getting "the letter". Well, here's the thing... I can't teach your child if he's not in school. I was cussed out by parents who wanted to attend field trips but missed the THREE notes that went home--and when they did attend a trip, sat on their phone the entire time. I've had parents stand me up multiple times on Conference Days then call to tattle on me when I refused to offer an after school option. I've had parents tell me that I'm not allowed to tell their child 'no'...

5. My mental and physical health was in jeopardy every.single.day. Knowing that your kids need and deserve more than they're getting. Sitting in one meeting after another, begging for more support, only to be told 'don't lose sleep over them'... when you LOVE your kids and are PASSIONATE about your mission... these messages tear you apart.

Gentry left the profession to focus on ways to help children where she believes they need it most, in their own homes.

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"I decided to start with my 1 at home... and work to help other mommas be able to show up for their ones at home," she wrote. "Because... I really do believe it starts there. I found something that allows me to impact the environments that [her former students] go home to."

In an interview with "Good Morning America," Gentry said the response to her viral post has been "overwhelmingly positive."

"There is an enormous amount of educators who feel that exact way but have felt alone and guilty for thinking so," Gentry told "Good Morning America." "I never expected it to reach farther than a few friends -- but I am so humbled to be able to throw the curtains open on the issue and give those who feel unable to say it a voice."

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When Sue Hoppin was in college, she met the man she was going to marry. "I was attending the University of Denver, and he was at the Air Force Academy," she says. "My dad had also attended the University of Denver and warned me not to date those flyboys from the Springs."

"He didn't say anything about marrying one of them," she says. And so began her life as a military spouse.

The life brings some real advantages, like opportunities to live abroad — her family got to live all around the US, Japan, and Germany — but it also comes with some downsides, like having to put your spouse's career over your own goals.

"Though we choose to marry someone in the military, we had career goals before we got married, and those didn't just disappear."

Career aspirations become more difficult to achieve, and progress comes with lots of starts and stops. After experiencing these unique challenges firsthand, Sue founded an organization to help other military spouses in similar situations.

Sue had gotten a degree in international relations because she wanted to pursue a career in diplomacy, but for fourteen years she wasn't able to make any headway — not until they moved back to the DC area. "Eighteen months later, many rejections later, it became apparent that this was going to be more challenging than I could ever imagine," she says.

Eighteen months is halfway through a typical assignment, and by then, most spouses are looking for their next assignment. "If I couldn't find a job in my own 'hometown' with multiple degrees and a great network, this didn't bode well for other military spouses," she says.

She's not wrong. Military spouses spend most of their lives moving with their partners, which means they're often far from family and other support networks. When they do find a job, they often make less than their civilian counterparts — and they're more likely to experience underemployment or unemployment. In fact, on some deployments, spouses are not even allowed to work.

Before the pandemic, military spouse unemployment was 22%. Since the pandemic, it's expected to rise to 35%.

Sue eventually found a job working at a military-focused nonprofit, and it helped her get the experience she needed to create her own dedicated military spouse program. She wrote a book and started saving up enough money to start the National Military Spouse Network (NMSN), which she founded in 2010 as the first organization of its kind.

"I founded the NMSN to help professional military spouses develop flexible careers they could perform from any location."

"Over the years, the program has expanded to include a free digital magazine, professional development events, drafting annual White Papers and organizing national and local advocacy to address the issues of most concern to the professional military spouse community," she says.

Not only was NMSN's mission important to Sue on a personal level she also saw it as part of something bigger than herself.

"Gone are the days when families can thrive on one salary. Like everyone else, most military families rely on two salaries to make ends meet. If a military spouse wants or needs to work, they should be able to," she says.

"When less than one percent of our population serves in the military," she continues, "we need to be able to not only recruit the best and the brightest but also retain them."

"We lose out as a nation when service members leave the force because their spouse is unable to find employment. We see it as a national security issue."

"The NMSN team has worked tirelessly to jumpstart the discussion and keep the challenges affecting military spouses top of mind. We have elevated the conversation to Congress and the White House," she continues. "I'm so proud of the fact that corporations, the government, and the general public are increasingly interested in the issues affecting military spouses and recognizing the employment roadblocks they unfairly have faced."

"We have collectively made other people care, and in doing so, we elevated the issues of military spouse unemployment to a national and global level," she adds. "In the process, we've also empowered military spouses to advocate for themselves and our community so that military spouse employment issues can continue to remain at the forefront."

Not only has NMSN become a sought-after leader in the military spouse employment space, but Sue has also seen the career she dreamed of materializing for herself. She was recently invited to participate in the public re-launch of Joining Forces, a White House initiative supporting military and veteran families, with First Lady Dr. Jill Biden.

She has also had two of her recommendations for practical solutions introduced into legislation just this year. She was the first in the Air Force community to show leadership the power of social media to reach both their airmen and their military families.

That is why Sue is one of Tory Burch's "Empowered Women" this year. The $5,000 donation will be going to The Madeira School, a school that Sue herself attended when she was in high school because, she says, "the lessons I learned there as a student pretty much set the tone for my personal and professional life. It's so meaningful to know that the donation will go towards making a Madeira education more accessible to those who may not otherwise be able to afford it and providing them with a life-changing opportunity."

Most military children will move one to three times during high school so having a continuous four-year experience at one high school can be an important gift. After traveling for much of her formative years, Sue attended Madeira and found herself "in an environment that fostered confidence and empowerment. As young women, we were expected to have a voice and advocate not just for ourselves, but for those around us."

To learn more about Tory Burch and Upworthy's Empowered Women program visit https://www.toryburch.com/empoweredwomen/. Nominate an inspiring woman in your community today!

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This article originally appeared on 03.19.15


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