One In A Million- Black History Month Feature:
Name: Dr. Rose M. Hoffman
School: Desert Sands Middle School
How long have you been a teacher? I have been a teacher for 49 years.
What made you get into the teaching profession? I have a passion for teaching and learning. I wanted to facilitate growth and cultivate learning while influencing students to become lifelong learners.
Did you face any challenges because you are African-American? Being a female and an African-American, sometimes I encountered challenges in promotions in leadership positions, overlooked for my expertise, and lack of recognition of accomplishments. Once I was in a classroom during a parent night and the principal came in and took pictures. Not once did the principal take a picture of me in the room with the other teachers.
Who was your most inspirational teacher and why? My first inspirational teacher was my mother. She taught me to believe in God, how to strive for excellence, to have work ethics, and to be content and appreciative. The second one was my high school Guidance Counselor who mentored me, helped me enroll in college and motivated me to go to college.
What do you think are some of the biggest challenges teachers in Arizona face right now?
Challenges for me would include the language barrier. I need to learn Spanish. In general the lack of personnel, salaries, class size, workload, and lack of parental involvement are challenges that teachers face.
How do these issues affect your day to day? As a special education teacher, I am required to complete an enormous amount of assessments, evaluations, paperwork, and attend many meetings for problem solving.
How are the expectations of becoming a teacher different than the reality? As a teacher you want to make a difference in nurturing and helping children learn. When you spend a lot of time dealing with paperwork and red tape, you lose your zeal to be as energetic and effective as you want to be.
Why do you think teachers burn out so quickly? Teachers are overworked (teach in-person while simultaneously running zoom lessons), and asked to do extra duties such as hall monitoring and other non-teaching duties.
What “fills your cup” when you’re running on empty? My cup fills up when I know I have made a difference by seeing the joy in the students eyes when they reach goals and they show appreciation for having learned something new. Some students often return to Desert Sands with siblings and give me hugs and thanks for what they have learned from me.
What are some of the most thoughtful and effective ways parents and the community can show gratitude? Parents can help students review schoolwork spend a day with their child at school and provide support when discipline is a problem. The community businesses could offer discounts for students who show growth in scores on progress reports.
What is your wish for Arizona students of color? I wish the students would be involved and take every opportunity to learn and master academic skills to be proficient.
What is your advice to African-American students who want to become teachers? I would advise them to be sure they want to teach children because they will need to be patient and willing to work hard beyond contract hours to be effective. Teaching is essential but the country does not value the professionals high as they should.
What efforts, if any, should schools make to attract and retain African-American teachers?
They should make efforts to recruit from HBCUs and provide signing bonuses.
What additional support or supplies do you need in your classroom and who do people contact if they want to help out?
For my classroom, the students could use headphones, tangible rewards, and educational assistant. I would think the principal would be the contact person.