Nationwide, the average teacher makes approximately $55,000 a year, but many teachers make less than that, reaching down to approximately $30,000 a year, hardly a living salary. And this prompts my friends in other fields to ask, "Why would you ever want to teach? You make no money and work so many hours." To which I usually respond, "Summers off, duh." But in reality, there are so many reasons to teach and so many things that have reassured that this is the field I want to spend the rest of my life in.

I'm studying English education at the secondary level, and I've become close to future special ed teachers, agriculture teachers, English teachers, elementary level teachers, Earth and space science teachers and math teachers. But upon asking all of these different people, they all responded similarly — they get to help form the next generation of students and possibly make a change in a student's life.

I can also assure you that almost every single person reading this has one teacher who was extremely formative in their lives. There's always one teacher who truly made a difference in your life, whether it dictated your future career goals, life goals or even was a confidant when you felt like you had no one else to talk to. I had so many of these teachers that the only logical path for me to follow was education, and the most impactful ones were my various English teachers. From my freshman year through my senior year of high school, I had interactions with so many different English teachers: Mrs. Bello, Mrs. Peplow, Mrs. Mehl, Mrs. Haga, Mr. Calvert, Ms. Fay, Mr. Kohler, Ms. Belovsky, Mrs. Dedecker — all of whom were English teachers, were the teachers who made high school enjoyable and really helped me find the path I want to take and need to take.

The best teachers are those whom you never had you as a student or as a member of the club they sponsor, but still make a connection with you and are worried and concerned for you. These are the teachers who make an extra effort to really understand the community of students they teach and give a damn about all students — not just the ones they teach.

One of the teachers who did this for me was Mrs. Fay. She taught poetry, philosophy and senior-level English. I never had her for any class and only had met her once before my senior year. Fay runs student council, which is in charge of homecoming, and my freshman year I was on the homecoming court. From this point on, Mrs. Fay made a point to be involved in my education, whether she had me as a student or not. She would wave to me in the hallway every day, and her goofy smile could get me out of any funk I was in, because she spread her undying joy to every student she could make contact with every day. My senior year we connected again through my school's comedy male pageant show; she asked me to catch her up on my entire life and showed me she cared. She inspires me to teach and be a light among the darkness like she was for so many people.

From elementary school all the way to the college level, teachers inspire. These teachers are so passionate about their subjects and fields that they want to ready the next generation to keep their passion aflame.

Other people teach because they want to spread their passions. One of my closest friends, Grace Mikrut, wants to teach agriculture at the secondary level. When I first met Grace, her dream seemed so foreign to me — teaching high schoolers to farm? But it's so much more than that. Agriculture spans so many different fields and has so many different niches that students could specialize in or explore. Agriculture is weaved into our everyday lives, and you would rarely even think about it. Her dream is to inform students about agriculture because not many people realize how important agriculture really is.

Sure having summers off is nice, but no one wants to teach because of that. Teachers do not teach because they want to be the next millionaire walking down the street. Income does not fuel their passions, outcomes do. Watching a student's eyes light up as they finally understand complex integrals and using vectors in real-life situations. Watching a nonverbal student with special needs begin to speak. Watching young students giggle in enjoyment during story time. Watching a student come to you and tell you you're their inspiration and that you impacted them so greatly that they want to follow in your footsteps. These things have value worth more than money. They're priceless. And that's why I want to teach.