Union High School teacher passionately reveals how NJ can get more teachers
Nicholas Ferroni is one of the top educators in the nation. He's very passionate about teaching and his fellow teachers.
His Instagram description says it all:
"As a kid, I wanted to be a superhero, philosopher, philanthropist, psychologist, activist, actor, comedian, and lawyer... So I became a teacher."
Among his many achievements, from "Get Your Teach On" Ferroni was named "One of the "100 Making a Difference, for his commitment to education reform." Nick appeared on The View, Today Show, ABC News and was featured in numerous publications for a Social Experiment he did with his students that went viral. Whoopi Goldberg called it “The best social experiment ever.”
He was also named People Magazine's "Sexiest Teacher" to which he said on my New Jersey 101.5 show: "Whenever I do press, I'm very quick to bring up the fact that if that was a female teacher, she would probably lose her job, which does not obviously fall ignorant on me."
It was on that same show that Ferroni opened up about the current shortage of teachers in New Jersey and the almost impossible expectations placed upon them.
"I didn't realize half the stuff of what teachers did. I didn't realize that when I saw my teachers working jobs at the beach, or in stands or delivering T-shirts, that they had to. I didn't realize when I was using supplies in a classroom, they bought those supplies."
"Then there's the sexism in the profession. I'm guilty of being exposed to sexism because teaching is a predominately female job," says Ferroni. "And we do not value the work of women. If teaching was 70% men, it would be a six-figure-year job. And that's something, the pay, the lack of resources, then there's the politics."
"And now we're politicizing teachers. Every news segment is trying to demonize and attack and criticize teachers, We have parents show up to board meetings to complain about things that are not happening when they shouldn't be complaining that their teachers, their child's teachers, working an extra job and don't have the supplies that they need. Like it's just we want to teach, we are leaving our dream jobs. And that should scare everybody."
So what can be done to fix it and attract more teachers to New Jersey schools?
"What I'm going to tell you is what teachers have been shouting about for decades, pay teachers a livable wage, you should not have your child's teacher working extra jobs to survive. Make sure that there are fewer students in classrooms so that way teachers could actually get to know them. If you really do care about a student's mental health. Counselors only have a certain number of students so they can actually counsel students. I know counselors who have 300 kids on their caseload. And it's like little things like that, that make such a big difference."
How can you reach kids in an overcrowded classroom?
"It's impossible. Imagine you have 40 minutes to talk to, get taught, and spend time with 40 people. I can't imagine how elementary school teachers do it. If I was a parent, we need parents' help more than ever, we are in this together. If I'm a parent, I'm going to trust the person who spent 180 days with my child, who sees my child and nurtures my child. Parents should be at board meetings complaining about the lack of resources, and class time. And the fact that their teachers are so underpaid, they're working extra jobs is anything? That's what we need parents' help with."
What advice would you give to someone who's considering becoming a teacher?
"I would say that it is the best job in the world, we are fighting to improve conditions and situations. So there's more of a supply and less of a demand. But it's a calling, just know that there are teachers and there are people fighting to improve the page, just like there have always been. And hopefully, things will be better by the time they do come into this profession, but their students are waiting for them. And they're gonna have such an impact on the lives of the kids who are in their classroom. And I always say I love teaching. I just hate what comes with being a teacher."
Opinions expressed in the post above are those of New Jersey 101.5 talk show host Steve Trevelise only. Follow him on Twitter @realstevetrev.
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