Teaching and artistry run in my blood. My mother was a teacher, and I taught drama to young people for over 20 years in New York. My father, Frank Kleinholz, was a world-renowned artist and guest lecturer at UM. I can tell you that there is nothing like waking up everyday, knowing that you are making a difference. That is why, after working full-time in the public library for seven years while studying part-time for a master's degree in library sciences, I made the natural leap to getting my teaching credentials in Florida. I was forced to take this leap after budget cuts froze the Librarian Trainee program in the Miami-Dade County Library System.
Now, however, I wake up everyday seeking the opportunity to make a difference. You see, since the Great Recession hit, I have sent out hundreds of applications to different schools throughout the state seeking a full-time teaching position; but they have all come up short. I started substitute teaching in Broward, and while I love it, it isn't permanent, plus there are no medical benefits. Even though I keep getting calls to come back and sub because I have proven my reliability and value to the students, those calls just aren't enough to pay the bills. Recently, I have been filling in at the same school as a receptionist. While this is not my passion, it is regular work, and is paying most of my bills. Sadly, I am considering taking this on next year for its consistency, and medical benefits.
Teaching, and trying to teach, has actually taught me a lot of things. Everyday that I step into a school building, I see the amazing potential in our country coupled with a serious lack of priorities. Our politicians have really lost sight of what makes this country great in the first place. They are too busy putting the needs of corporations and big business ahead of everything else. Don't get me wrong, supporting business is important but not at the expense of our students and young people. While corporations are getting more breaks and kickbacks, there are kids in our state that can only afford to eat when they come to school.
Seeing our city, state and country have seriously skewed priorities really gets to me. For a while, I felt like I lost my voice and my ability to speak up. I felt shunned and put down. I didn't even feel like voting because I thought that my decisions wouldn't matter. But over the past year, seeing so many people stand up and stand together has really inspired me to stand up for my community and country as well. I feel like my voice is coming back.
But we are running out of time. We need to come together and stop waiting for our politicians to get their act together. We need to hit the streets and let our "leaders" know that they have to work for us and our future, not for the corporations. If we want things to change then we have to take the first step. If there are organizations that are already fighting for change, join them. Otherwise, start one. Talk to our neighbors, our friends, and children. Tell them that we can't stay silent anymore. We have to get our voices back!