Most of my adult life I’ve experienced insomnia due to circumstances such as working 12 hour shifts from six in the evening to six in the morning, taking education classes at night that ended at 10 or later and getting home and staying up till two or three  in the morning to complete my coursework. Now that I am teaching, all kinds of thoughts run through my mind that does not allow me to get a good night’s sleep.  To make matters worse, on November 25,  I attended a State Teachers Advisory Board Meeting and present was Andrew Morrill, President of the Arizona Education Association, and he asked those present, “What in education keeps you up at night?”  So now I lie awake at night thinking of “What keeps me awake at night?”

Here is what keeps me awake at night:

With many colleges and universities reporting that graduating high school seniors are not well prepared and must take remediation classes before enrolling in classes that count towards their anticipated degree, I worry if my son will have to take remediation classes.  However, he put my worries to rest last summer by passing a college entrance exam.  He registered that summer as a high school junior for an accelerated English 101 class and was highly successful.  Because of his success, he is excited about taking English 102 in the Spring Semester, which brings me to another concern.

My son will be graduating next year with plans on attending a major university and I will support him in achieving his goals.  However, due to the economy, my salary, and the rising cost of education, I worry that I will not be able to support my son financially and I ponder the thought that perhaps this might be my last year as a teacher.  This thought is a nightmare that keeps me up at night.

Not wanting to be alone staying up at night, I asked several individuals, “What keeps you up at night?”  One teacher said, “I worry about being held accountable for students who chose not to perform academically in the classroom after being given support to be successful.”  A paraprofessional who is studying to obtain her degree in Elementary Education said, “My concern is will I have the proper classroom management skills to be successful in the classroom?”  And lastly, a parent/teacher replied, “I worry about the emotional and everyday needs of my students.”

“What keeps you up at night?”


Manuel Chavez

Manuel Chavez

San Manuel, AZ

My name is Manuel Michael Chavez Jr. My greatest contribution to education is being able to relate my 20 years of work experience to my students, which I obtained while working for Magma/BHP Copper, one of the largest underground copper mines in the world. My intentions had been to work for Magma Copper Company for the summer and return to school the following fall to pursue my dream of becoming an educator. Twenty years later, I was still employed with Magma Copper and had held various underground mining positions with the last position being a heavy equipment mechanic. In 1999, the mine announced complete closure and I had been forced and given a second opportunity to pursue my dream. What a bittersweet life-changing event in my life. I obtained my Bachelor’s of Science degree in education from NAU and have been teaching for the Mammoth-San Manuel Unified School District in Southwest Arizona for nine years and am pursuing National Board Certification. In 2009, I was selected as an Ambassador for Excellence for the Arizona Educational Foundation and currently sit on the Board of Directors for Sun Life Family Health Care Clinics and the WestEd organization. It is my belief that by intertwining my classroom lessons with my own life experiences and providing my students real world life scenarios, students become engaged in the lessons and develop a desire to learn.

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