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  • Writer's pictureRick Joseph

You Have a Voice! Let it Be Heard

You Have a Voice! Let it Be Heard

It’s time to start a new conversation. One that is real. One that is relevant and much needed. It’s time to tell our stories about a profession that is not only noble, but vital in shaping the future. A future that will require creative thinkers, problem solvers, nurturers, risk-takers, team players, game-changers, connectors, unifiers, doers, collaborators, negotiators, trend-setters, leaders, supporters, entrepreneurs, thinkers, dreamers, storytellers.

Because we can’t lose sight of why we do what we do.

In my line of work I’ve been shown the value of curiosity, personal expression, sense of humor and perseverance and I want to share that with others. Where I work, people count first. I never give up on the people I work with. They are the heart and soul of what I do. I light fires in my people and challenge them to chase their dreams. I bring passion and creativity and inspire that in others. I take control of situations. I am resilient. I have to adapt and I have to improvise every day and it’s invigorating. I help build frameworks for the future. I help others to develop a more innovative society. I learn something new every day and that’s the fun part of my job. I absolutely love what I do. I look at a caterpillar and see a butterfly. I provide opportunities for others to find their voice and do something with it.

I teach.

It’s time to reclaim the profession. Everyone is an educator. Speak up. Take action. Make a difference. Because our success is your success. It’s that simple. Either you’re part of the solution or part of the problem. So what are you going to do?

Be the solution. Join the conversation. You have a voice. Let it be heard.

This summer, I was fortunate to be part of a team of 12 educators who came together to create a very simple, yet profound message. You Have a Voice! Let it Be Heard.

Last May I received an email from Bill Cecil, Michigan Teacher of the Year 2004 from the Waverly Central School District, who invited me to participate in a remarkable multimedia experience. Bill assembled a diverse team of teachers from around the state. We came together in the classroom of Jeff Croley and Jason Lafay at Dewitt High School. Their workspace oozes creativity, and resembles a cross between Google headquarters and a hip coffee shop rather than a classroom. Under Jeff’s expert direction, we spent the morning brainstorming and reflecting. Why are you a teacher? What is the essence of your job? Why does your work matter?

After discussion and reflection we played some improv games and lived the lives of screen actors. For the next two hours, through take after take after take, Jeff guided us as we painstakingly created what we hope will be a clarion call for educators everywhere. You Have a Voice! Let it Be Heard.

As my Michigan Teacher of the Year mentors, Melody Arabo and Gary Abud, constantly remind me, I am a voice for Michigan educators. It is my job to elevate the profession by shining light on the amazing work that happens all over the state - every day - all year long. I am obliged to provide a balanced narrative that articulates the reality of the craft of an educator and the challenges we face and successes that we celebrate. In short, I am mandated as the MTOY 2016 to live out the motto of You Have a Voice! Let it Be Heard.

This year, I will have the opportunity to meet with teachers from Iron Mountain to Monroe. If you would like me to come to your school and help amplify your voice, please contact me at In the meantime, please think about how you can share the story of your work as an educator. Think about conversations you may have. Whether you chat with a neighbor at a backyard barbeque or a legislator in Lansing, tell people your stories. Help people understand what really matters to you as a public educator. Please include the hashtag, #reignitetheprofession on social media as you speak up and speak out. Always remember, You Have a Voice! Let it Be Heard.

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