Why I Teach? A Voice from StoryCorps

Ayodeji Ogunniyi
Ayodeji Ogunniyi

It’s not an best of time for teachers – budget cuts, layoffs, increased class size, test-score based evaluations, and attacks on collective bargaining / tenure, etc.  Meanwhile, the self-appointed corporate reformers would have you believe that they can fix education with a strong dose of market incentives.

There are many people that cry because they’re hurt, they’ve been neglected; but to cry because you couldn’t read. That spoke volumes to me.

This morning I heard a moving StoryCorps narrative on why one young man chose to become a teacher.

Spoiler alert – it wasn’t merit pay.

From StoryCorps: In 1990, Ayodeji Ogunniyi left Nigeria, along with his mother and brother, to come to the United States. They arrived in Chicago, joining Ayodeji’s father, Abimbola “Yinka” Ogunniyi, who’d arrived a few years earlier, and was working as a cab driver. Abimbola always wanted Ayodeji to be a doctor. But while Ayodeji was studying pre-med in college, his father was murdered on the job. At StoryCorps, Ayodeji talked about how his father’s death changed the course of his life.

Listen to Ogunniyi’s story at StoryCorps

Read more about Ogunniyi at the LA Times

StoryCorps National Teachers Initiative celebrates the brilliant and courageous work of at least 625 public school teachers across the country. By recording, sharing, and preserving their stories, we hope to call public attention to the invaluable contributions teachers have made to this nation, honor those who have embraced the profession as their calling, encourage teaching as a career choice, and unify the country behind its teachers—helping us all recognize that there is no more important or noble work than that of educating our nation’s children.

Photo credit: StoryCorps

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