The start to this school year is unlike any other

My name is Morgan Keena and I am a teacher in the Nampa School District. This school year is my fourth year of teaching, my fourth year of being in the NSD, and my third year of teaching in a pandemic. Additionally, I am a graduate student at Arizona State University where I am working on my master’s degree in History, I am an HP Teaching Fellow, and I am a curatorial assistant on an international digital Covid-19 archive. My husband and I moved to Idaho from North Dakota after my husband was accepted into medical school in Meridian. Over the last four years, we have been able to call Nampa our home. As the pandemic has raged on, I have made a point to watch every single board meeting to ensure I was up to date on all possible information.

I started by listing my qualifications, so you understand that I am considered a highly qualified educator. I truly love my job and until this year I have been excited to go to work every day. However, in the last few weeks I have come to the realization that I may be leaving teaching after this year. After more than a year of disrespect from school boards across the country (and the Nampa School Board) and rhetoric surrounding teaching, it has become too much. A statement was made the other night that hit me in the gut. Trustee Keller said, “I’m in it for the kids” and I’d like to agree with that comment, but I’d like to take a moment to explain what it means for me to be “in it for the kids.”

As a middle school teacher, I connect with about 150 students each day. I know all of their names, their IEP accommodations, 504 plan details, home situations, extracurricular activities, interests/hobbies, and learning styles. I attend various music performance events, volleyball games, and football games. I check in with them about their weekends, make sure they’ve had breakfast, and offer them a granola bar when they come to me hungry. Additionally, when our school practices lockdown drills as required by Idaho state law, I crowd up to 34 students into the corner of my classroom and stand at the door with a pair of scissors ready to protect the students. I’d like you to think about that for a moment. While that lockdown is only a drill, I know that I (and all teachers in NSD and across the country) would do anything to protect our students. What can you do to help protect us?

I know we are all aware that Idaho has a teacher shortage. Given the low pay, rising costs of college tuition, unpaid internships, and treatment that teachers are receiving from this community and board, I foresee that shortage continuing. We are only a few short weeks into the school year, and I can tell you the start to this school year is unlike any other. I am exhausted, hurt, and sad that this may be my last year. I’d like to end by reminding you that I am ‘in it for the kids’ because to me, providing students with high quality educators (like myself and my colleagues) is what our students truly need. I can assure you that high quality educators will only continue to show up for our kids if you show up and support the teachers of this district.

 

About Morgan Keena

Morgan Keena is a 7th-grade social studies teacher in the Nampa School District. She is currently pursuing a master's degree in History from Arizona State University, is a 2021 HP Teaching Fellow, and volunteers as a curatorial assistant on the Journal of the Plague Year Covid-19 Archive.

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