People have asked me if I’m crazy. After covering education, mostly public education, for more than three years, they ask, “If you’ve seen how bad it is for public school teachers, why would you choose that field to go into?”
The answer is cheesy and maybe cliched, but I’m going to say it anyway.
I hope I can make a difference.
I’m writing this as the last piece on my last day working at the Ahwatukee Foothills News. It’s a bittersweet moment, but I am excited about the opportunities to come.
Yes, public education is not in a great spot in Arizona right now. Everyone with a vested interest — parents, teachers, administrators — knows Arizona is near the bottom nationally in per pupil funding, and has been for some time.
Obviously, the economy is one of the main reasons why. Less money in taxes means budget cuts to not just education, but all areas. I don’t have the answers, but I hold out hope that things will change.
There are people in Congress who do want to do just that and I encourage everyone who cares to do their research about the upcoming ballot measures (which you can read in future issues of the AFN).
But there are people out there who want improvement, and it just comes down to the voters. No one wants to pay more in taxes, but if bills such as the Quality Education and Jobs Act passes in November (a continuance of a 1-cent sales tax), there will be long-term positive outcomes if we invest in public education.
The people I have met over the years such as the teachers, volunteers and principals of Ahwatukee Foothills schools influenced my decision to change careers because you can easily see the passion is there. They don’t try to hide it. A lot of other careers, you don’t get the same response.
I guess that is what ultimately spurred me to try and follow along a path to becoming a teacher.
People involved with education are just one group of people I have enjoyed getting to know over the years. The other main area I feel honored to write about is the military and the veterans who have come out of or live in Ahwatukee Foothills.
Anthony Ameen, homegrown Desert Vista graduate who lost half his leg in Afghanistan, started his own organization to help veterans get the benefits they are entitled to when returning home from overseas. His organization, Wings for Warriors, has been featured on national broadcast channels and he has made appearances on shows such as “Last Call with Carson Daly.”
A few months ago, I wrote an article about a wartime veteran benefit available to those who need living assistance. After that article was published I received a few calls from residents asking for more information about where to go or how best to apply.
But I got one call from a woman who was taking care of her husband who, if I recall correctly, had dementia. He was a World War II veteran. They received some assistance from the federal government but when she read the story, she told me the benefit I described was much more than what she was getting previously.
I walked her through a few of the steps and told her what I had learned and afterward she thanked me for writing the article. I never heard back from her about whether or not she applied for it or got it but I think that if I help improve the life of one other person in this world, well that’s never something to forget about.
My time here at the Ahwatukee Foothills News has presented me with a handful of experiences like these and introduced me to people I don’t plan on forgetting about anytime soon. There will always be a part of me that loves writing and investigative journalism.
I want to thank those who read my articles over the years and sent me emails with your questions and concerns. I want to thank the local schools and districts for opening my eyes to certain things.
Most of all, I want to thank the people of Ahwatukee Foothills for letting a complete stranger ask you questions about your personal life and put them into words on a page so thousands of other strangers can read with the same hope I have with each story I write: maybe it will improve the life of someone who reads it.
That reason got me into journalism and is now pushing me to education.
• Contact writer: (480) 898-4903 or firstname.lastname@example.org