At a time when school districts are encouraging retired teachers to return to the classroom, one man chose to take the plunge.
At Jefferson Terrace Academy in Baton Rouge, 5th-grade students deliver presentations on historical individuals in the hopes of instilling in them the belief that they can achieve anything if they put in the effort.
“I love them…like these kids right here, I love them. I want to show them that there’s a better way,” Reginald Pitcher tells WAFB.
Pitcher is still teaching social studies and science at the age of 68, but he resigned five years ago after working as a social worker in the foster care and juvenile justice systems for numerous years.
He’s now unhappy with the state of the world.
“Looking at the TV and watching the news seeing so many of young people killing each other, you know, going to jail and I remember the kids that I come in contact with. If they would have gotten a solid foundation early on in life like in elementary school what difference would it have made for them had they gotten that,” Pitcher explains.
It is for this reason that he is lecturing today, to remind pupils that they can accomplish more with their life without resorting to violence.
“If I could help five keep them from falling in that path then my work is not in vain,” Pitcher explains.
He claims that he can relate to some of his kids since he, too, had a difficult childhood.
“I have experienced a lot of the things that they’ve experienced. I’ve been in gangs, I’ve robbed, I’ve stole and I’ve sold drugs. You know, I’ve done all of that growing up in the projects. So, there is not a lot of things that they’re doing or have done or going to do that I haven’t already done.”
Pitcher says this has been the most satisfying job he has ever done, despite a 30 percent reduction in individuals wanting to be teachers in Louisiana. He says he will continue to fight to make a difference in his kids’ lives.
“I want to at least try to save some kids. I know I can’t save all of them, but I can make a difference with some of them. If I can make a difference with some of them, maybe they’ll grow up and do the same thing for somebody else that I am doing for them” says Pitcher.