Why I teach: Central Florida educators share their stories

Teachers say they’re passionate about the next generation

Leading up to the 2022-23 school year, we thought it would be a good idea to pay homage to Central Florida teachers.

From staffing shortages to low pay to a raft of new requirements and rules, the upcoming school year is starting with various challenges.

[WHY I TEACH: Watch teachers share their stories in videos below | GALLERY: Read teacher quotes]

For the past couple of weeks, we’ve asked our local teachers, “Why do you teach?” Now, News 6 is sharing their stories.

Many said they teach because they are passionate about educating the next generation -- and they love their students.

Watch the videos below to see all the reasons why teachers choose to educate your children. You can also see more “why I teach” statements from teachers around Central Florida by going to the gallery HERE.

News 6 met with veteran teacher Judy Lindquist at Andover Elementary School in Orange County where she is the gifted teacher.
For teacher Lisa Gaskell, it's all about seeing the look on young kids' faces when they learn something for the first time.
Jason Litt teaches elementary school in Seminole County.
Kim Donovan says her father was a teacher, and he and other teachers impacted her life.
Alecia Bryant says she wants her students to see her as an advocate.
Dr. Maria Vazquez shares her story about teaching young students.
Michael Bishop teaches art at South Seminole Academy, where he says he can witness his students' artistic journey.
Pamela Duke teaches fifth grade in Lake County. She wants her students to dream big.
Amanda McCaughin, a media specialist at Indialantic Elementary School, knows what it's like to be a struggling reader and aims to inspire her students with her own journey.
Dian Woolfolk is inspired by a student's success, and by helping parents with tips and feedback.
Kim Santiago teaches elementary school in Volusia County. She loves seeing them grow throughout the year.
Heather Parker says all kids need to feel like they are seen, and teachers have the chance to have that impact.
Bill Molineaux, the band director for the Osceola County School for the Arts in Kissimmee, has been teaching for about 16 years.
Bonnie Watkins, a Lake County high school teacher, has been in the field of education for over 20 years.
Cherese Fussner, an Orange County math teacher, is the latest educator featured in News 6's "Why I Teach" series.
A. Marie Menelas, an instructional reading coach at Ocoee Elementary School, told News 6 that inspiring a passion for reading in her students is her reason for teaching.
Tracy Nedd is an AVID coordinator at Narcoossee Middle School.
David Foresman is a Volusia County middle school teacher who was inspired by his own teachers.
A middle school science teacher for Seminole County Public Schools shares why she teaches.
Sean Mundyschein, an elementary school science teacher, tells News 6 why he chose to teach.

“It’s simple: It’s an honor to be a teacher,” said Rachel Sadlemire, who teaches at Astatula Elementary School in Lake County. “No one profession can say that every single day they have the future of the world in their classroom. My kids are going to be world changers. We’re known in our campus, and in our community, as “the kind class.” Before I teach academics, I teach kindness and love and empathy. These children are our future, and they are going to change the world.”

“Every day, I get to change a life. Whether it is self-confidence, the ability to read, write, add, subtract, or just treat others the way you want to be treated, I am amazed at the transformations I see from August to June,” said Ms. Moore, a kindergarten teacher in Orange County.

“My students need an advocate. Someone outside of their home to really see them and what makes them special, put it all together and make it work for them to learn. I teach because I want students to see learning can be fun but also requires thought, work and effort,” said Alecia Bryant at Meadow Woods Middle School in Orange County.

“I teach to show students to enjoy the unknown, to spark their curiosity about all there is to learn,” said Katie, a teacher at Waterbridge Elementary School in Orange County. “I teach to empower students as young people, so they see themselves as uniquely talented with important and interesting thoughts and opinions to be shared. I teach to show students how belonging to our classroom community fosters learning and is one of the best parts of any school experience. I teach my students to enjoy the ride of second grade!”

“I teach because I know some students need a constant in their lives,” said Kristen, a teacher at Tavares Middle School in Lake County. “They need someone who will be there for them every day and will take them as they are. I know they need this because I needed the same thing. I attended nine different schools from grades K-12 and I attribute my success to great teachers who were there for me. They met me where I was and pushed me to do more than I thought (what society thought I would do).”

“‘She believed she could change the world so she became a teacher.’ This quote hangs in my classroom and is my why,” said Patti, a teacher at Sabal Elementary School in Brevard County. “I am one of the lucky ones who gets to help guide our youth as they set off on their way to become our future. I get to be there as they struggle and want to give up and the best part about it is when they finally find the confidence to figure it out and do it on their own. That smile or ‘yes’ is worth every moment.”

“I can’t imagine doing anything else,” said Kim, a teacher at Deltona Lake Elementary School who has been teaching for 26 years. “I have always loved sitting and talking to kids. I love hearing them explain their reasoning. As time has passed in education, I have watched the demands of education grow. But still creating a safe place for these children to explain their thinking is so satisfying, even my lowest students when they truly “get” something or can teach another child a skill. It is inspiring every year! When I know their backstories and how challenging their life is, I just want a place where they come and smile every day!”

“I am inspired by the smiles on my students’ faces when they see me every morning,” said Kacie, who teaches at Astatula Elementary School in Lake County. “I want to be the light and safety net for each one of my students. My number one priority is making sure my students feel loved and heard, which is crucial in building a positive relationship with them. Students learn best when they are loved, nurtured and cared for. I am inspired by students who have been through so much and still greet me with a smile every day. I am inspired by helping my students who had no future goals explore possible career paths and future endeavors.”

“I teach music because every young person has the opportunity to discover that they have a unique voice, which when combined with others, can create something beautiful,” said Jennifer, a teacher at Southwest Middle School in Orange County. “Music helps kids express themselves in positive ways, builds community, helps us deal with the ups and downs of life, and teaches us all that greatness can come from inside anyone. I love being a part of the daily life of teenagers — an age that scares many people! I have been teaching for 26 years and am still learning every day. I hope to send each new year of students out into the world with better life skills and tools to become their best selves. Teaching is my calling, music is my passion.”

“I teach because I believe. I remember myself, being 8 years old and brand new to the United States,” said Bhavya, a teacher at Chickasaw Elementary School in Orange County. “I felt shy, scared, and excited all at the same time as I struggled to learn in a new country, new setting, and with completely different people. Thankfully, my fourth-grade teacher, Mrs. Lightman, believed in me, encouraged me, was patient with me, and helped me to believe in myself. I learned and grew that year at my own pace, but I did it. And that feeling of knowledge and growth is what I want my students to feel when they are with me.”

“I teach because when I tune out all the noise around, the politics and the hullabaloo, I hear my students’ voices,” said Prudence, a teacher at Forsyth Woods Elementary School. “My students are my why for teaching. They are the ones who will say, ‘I had a great day! I will miss school on the weekend! I want to be an astronaut. Ms., can you help me do this?’ Children are the most genuine humans. They are honest, full of love and are sincere. When I look them in the eyes, I am full of love for them and push myself to give nothing but my best. They come to me with expectation. I must be ready to meet their expectations without disappointment. Knowing that my job is impacting these young lives is truly why I teach.”

“When students read their first chapter book and are super excited about getting ‘A-R’ points, that warms my heart,” said A. Marie Menelas, an instructional reading coach at Ocoee Elementary School. “And that is why I teach.”

Watch News 6 at 4 p.m. this month to see more teachers share their stories.

Teachers can answer “Why I teach” using the form below.