Science Teacher Shares Challenges of New Jersey Educators

Steve Adubato goes one on one with New Jersey educator, Sean Spiller, about the challenges and the incredible successes of teaching in the Garden State.

3/13/17 #2019






"We are at the 163rd New Jersey Education Association convention in beautiful Atlantic City with Sean Spiller, who is the Secretary Treasurer of the NJEA. How are you doing? I'm doing well. Thanks for asking. By the way, I just want to make it clear that we are neighbors in our home town of beautiful Montclair and you serve on the township council. I do. My great pleasure. So, you decided to go into education because? I always thought that for me, the people that have the most impact on my life were my parents, and beyond that in college, I played hockey and was coached by a gentleman who really, I learned so much from and he was a high school science teacher and I remember for years that I would go to these practices or we would have our games and I'd listen to him and you just got that feeling of what a difference he was making day in and day out with the kids that he taught and I'd hear the stories and it just got me excited to really move towards teaching and I went the exact same way. I became a high school science teacher just like him and I can only hope that I've also had an impact on hopefully, a lot of lives. So the people around you said "come on Sean, why don't you go and make a lot of money in corporate America?". You're shaking your head because they did say it. Yeah, well, I saw my friends who were doing it. And you said? I said look... This is about the same reason why I started it and I saw the difference he was making and when you're in education, it is not the best paid profession. It is certainly underpaid for the work that it is, but you get such a reward. You get such a reward from the kids every single day. So, it's absolutely worth it. Describe it. It's the feeling that it doesn't matter what kind of a day you're having. You're coming in, you might be a little down. Something may upset you and you walk in and a student comes in and they just say something that makes you smile. Right. Or they ask a question. It can be about the littlest of things. One that I'm thinking of as I'm even telling you this story. I can't remember why I was a little off that day or felt a little down, but I walked in and I was teaching freshman biology and the kids are there. We're about to go through something. And she comes in and she's just excited about whatever it is that we're talking about and the other kids are like "Come on! Don't be so excited!"