As most of you know, I left my professional career in the insurance business behind in 2018 to pursue a passion for teaching. For the past five years I’ve had the privilege of teaching young people about politics and government.
I started out guest lecturing at James Madison University, and for the past four years have taught my own classes at George Mason University and Virginia Commonwealth University.
I have great respect for my colleagues who have traditional academic backgrounds, but I really appreciate universities like GMU and VCU who are also willing to give teachers like me, who are more “professors of practice,” an opportunity to share my experience with students in the classroom.
Teaching is hard work, but it’s also extremely important. The greatest reward as a teacher is when you connect with a student and have an impact on their future direction. Toward that end, I thought I would share an email I received this week from one of my students:
“Professor Bolling, I’ll be graduating this week and just wanted to write and thank you for all you have done to help advance my educational journey. I took my first class from you totally by accident, and was shocked to find out that my professor was the former Lieutenant Governor of Virginia.
I loved that class. I learned so much, not just from the textbook, but from someone who had actually been there, working in government at the state and local level. Since then I have taken every class you have offered. You quickly became my favorite professor, and I have learned so much from you.
I’ve already been hired to go to work on Capitol Hill, and I can’t wait to get started. I know I will put much of what you taught me into practice, and I promise to do my part to make government work! You taught me a lot, and for that I will always be grateful.”
Folks, that’s exactly why teachers do what they do. They don’t do it for the money or the prestige. They get very little of either. They do it to have an impact on the lives of the students they teach.
At least for today, I feel that my journey as a teacher has had an impact. That’s all I ever wanted, and it’s all any teacher can ask for.