Tree Foundation of Kern

Elementary School Teacher

To promote an understanding of the importance of trees and healthy forests.

Those who love children, challenges and making a difference for the future may find teaching to be a rewarding career.

Teachers can help shape children's understanding of the importance of trees within a well- rounded curriculum, preparing future generations to be caretakers of our growing urban forests.

Trees become an important part of the school curriculum through special tree planting projects that give children hands-on experience with trees as they learn about ecology and trees in the classroom.

The South Fork School in rural Weldon, California has involved its students in a number of tree planting projects to benefit local community organizations.

"It's so much fun for them," said teacher Mary Ann Morgan. "They love getting out and actually physically doing something for the community."

"A lot of these kids are more from a ranching background and this gives them some insight into protecting what we have here," Morgan said.

For students at the desert community of Rosamond Elementary School, a flower bed and tree planting project aimed at beautifying the sparse landscape also provided opportunities for learning in many different subjects."We do a really large plant unit in the spring so the kids can see how they grow and how important plants are to our community," Fiker said.

The school included the planting as part of the Arbor Day celebration, and in addition to writing reports and reading, students also produced a play on ecology and the rainforest.

In addition to working with kids, teachers participate in staff meetings, ongoing training and parent-teacher meetings.

Working ten hours a day and weekends is not uncommon for teachers, although many do take advantage of summer vacation to regroup and recharge for the next school year.

"Some teachers spend the required amount of time, but then they take their work home at night," said. "You don't mind doing that. Extra time is just a part of teaching. I never think about how long I'm at school."

"It's definitely not for everyone. "You really have to enjoy kids and have a lot of patience," Fiker continued. "Not everyone is cut out to be a teacher. You work by yourself. You're basically with kids all day, but the rewards are great."

"It's fun to see that spark in the kids' eyes, to see that knowledge they're getting and seeing creative people in the classroom making it fun," Fiker said.

Requires: 4 Year college degree plus teaching credential.

Salary: Salary begins at about $30,000 per school year, peak at about $40,000 and varies regionally.