One of my former students posted this as a comment to one of my posts about the impact of budget "repair" bill on my salary. And he's right; if we think of success in terms of money only, it's a very minor measure:
"I think Logan is right, the value of you as a professor=priceless. Teachers making more than professors? Yes, my mother is a teacher and she makes more than that. I made more than that as a mechanic with only a high school diploma. It is a disgrace in my opinion. Who's going to even want to seek tenure? But, in spite of all this BS, I go back to my first statement. You were the best professor I ever had, hands down. Not even a close second. What you do and can do for people in your position shouldn't be taken for granted. What you did for me by just being who you are I don't think I will ever be able to repay you for. Ever. There is no way I can understate what you did for me just by being who you are, I hope you know that. I know peanuts don't pay the bills, but if we measure our success in $$ only, I think our units of measure are all wrong. As I said what they pay you is truly a disgrace to me, but I prefer to measure success in the happiness we create and the good we can do in this world. Measured in these terms, you are one of the most successful people in the world. I'm very sure I'm not alone in saying that I'm proud to know you. You are amongst the most decent people I've ever met. The epitome of success. Walker? His time in office may be very short indeed. He's upset a lot of people..."
I am grateful for the reminder--that I didn't get into this profession to make money (not hardly)--I became a teacher because I want to help others become who they are going to be. "I teach: I touch the future." My friends in undergrad who were education majors had shirts with this saying on it, and it's part of the reason I too am in education.
"I am not a teacher; I am an awakener." -Robert Frost
I have this quote on my office door, and today it is I who am awakened from the fog of anger and depression by one of my students. I am grateful.
The wheel keeps turning.