They say those who can’t do, teach.
And they’re right.
I can’t do the crazy hours, low pay, missing holidays, eating take-out at 11 p.m. and writing stories from spooky Food Lion parking lots in Charlotte.
After being a journalist for five years, I’m changing careers. I’ve made the decision to become a high-school English teacher.
This isn’t goodbye, though.
I’ve accepted a teaching position at Scotland High School.
I did not make this decision lightly, because I feel like my identity is wrapped up in being a journalist. I’m called the “newspaper lady” more often than not — and I answer to it.
I knew when I got into journalism I would never get rich, but I loved it so much that it didn’t matter. I was Denzel Washington in “Remember the Titans” and being on the field for Friday nights was my sanctuary. The feeling that covering sports gives me hasn’t changed, but everything else that comes with working in an ever-shrinking newspaper industry has worn me down.
It gets hard being asked to do so much and still struggling to pay your bills and buy groceries.
As I struggled with the decision to leave the job I love, I reached out to my former editor Christine for advice. She reassured me all the things that make me a great journalist will translate into being a great teacher.
She said the biggest selling point should be that I could have a balance between my work and home life, getting done mid-afternoon instead of midnight.
Justin and I haven’t been married long enough to only see each other in passing — I still like spending time with him. Get back with me in a few years and I might change my tune.
The biggest reason I’m switching to teaching is my kids — not my biological children (don’t have any of those yet, much to my mother’s dismay) — the students at Scotland that I’ve built relationships with over the last two years. I realized I wanted to make more of an impact in their lives than putting their name and photo in the paper.
I want to be an influential person in their life and what better way to do that than through teaching. I still remember the teachers who sparked my love of writing and reading — that’s the type of impact I want to have.
That doesn’t mean I’m not completely terrified.
I literally have no idea what I’m getting myself into, but I feel like teaching is what God is calling me to do — and I have to answer that call.
To my coaches, thank you for welcoming me into the Fighting Scots family.
Most of you will now be my colleagues at the high school and have been just as excited to have me in the classroom as you were to have me covering your teams.
It’s been a fabulous first two years in Scotland County and I look forward to many more with the school system as Justin and I continue to build our lives here in North Carolina.
To the wonderful people at the Exchange — thank you.
Thank you for taking a chance on a young reporter and making this place home. I’m going to miss the people I’ve come to think of as family. Katelin and Beth, I solemnly swear to read our Book Club books each month. Althea, I promise to teach the students proper grammar; Amy, you’ll have to text me all the gossip, since I won’t hear it firsthand anymore; and Celeste, some days your sense of humor and inappropriate thoughts kept me going.
Curt, I didn’t forget about you, even though we’ve only worked together a few weeks. I know the paper is in good hands and you’ll make sure the sports section doesn’t falter.
I did my best to elevate the sports section and make sure each sport was equally represented, and I think I did that. If the new sport6s reporter starts to slack off in covering anything, know you’re not the only ones watching, I’ll be keeping a close eye on things, too.
Even though I’m stepping away from the newspaper, that doesn’t mean I won’t always be a reporter at heart.
And as always, Go Scots!
Amber Hatten-Staley has been the sports editor at the Laurinburg Exchange, until today.