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THE LEAP



TEACHER OF THE YEAR


On Monday, May 19th, I put in my letter of resignation to my principal.  I am completing my 7th year in a Title I classroom, with some of the most challenged but most amazing kids in the world.  Through this time I have really grown a lot as a person and have succeeded in much of what I have done, earning High Growth Distinction every year, a Strategic Staffing Position in my district, First Year Teacher of the Year, and Teacher of the Year.  I have acted as Department Head, Grade Level Head, Planned and Implemented multiple Tutoring and Science Camp Programs and Field Trips.  It has been fantastic!  I know there is not a job out there like it. 


Two months ago, I was checking out at Harris Teeter and, as I always do, I asked the cashier, "How is your day going?"  As I looked at her, she looked at me and we both had that, "don't I know you" look.  She was one of my students from my second year of teaching!  Quiet and hard working girl.  She proceeded to tell me that she attends the Technology High School as a junior and is currently taking Calculus.  She is WORKING now... I taught her is 5th grade!  She DROVE herself to work!  She plans on attending a NC college and I felt so proud to have had a small part of helping her become who she is today. 


This morning I was at a local garage sale and a curly haired boy steps down from his mom's car.  He looked very familiar, but very different from who I thought he was (plus the kid I remember I knew had moved to Tennessee).  As quickly as I could figure out if this is that kid that I taught, his mom says, "MR. SANTORO!  Is that your baby?"  It has been nearly 4 years since I taught him, but mom sure remembered me.  He is getting ready to go into 10th grade and is back in East Charlotte and going to the local High School.  It was clear that I had made an impact on this student's mother, the way I reached out for support was what she remembered.


This year I have the pleasure of teaching 6 students who have been in my life for over six years!  My wife taught a tight-knit group of students six years ago in the 2nd grade.  She is the type of teacher who makes time to get to know and hang out with every student outside of school.  The students and parents LOVE Mrs. Santoro.  She was fortunate enough to loop up with this group of wonderful students from 2nd grade to the 3rd grade, that's right, they were stuck with here for two years!  Lucky them, seriously.  Now they are 7th graders and as I wrap up my last year in the classroom I am able to see the faces of these students that I have known for so long, their siblings, their families... knowing that the Santoros have had a HUGE impact in these 6 student's development and learning, helping them to become who they are today, hopefully for the better, not worse ;)


THE STRUGGLE


But after 7 years in teaching, and with a Masters Degree, I am still striving to hit the $40,000 salary mark.  Financial Opportunity is the one thing that I do not have in this career.  We have been on pay freeze for the last 5 years, meaning I am still being paid as a 2nd year teacher. 


I tell you this so you understand a little bit about where Enderly Coffee Company has grown from...  It is not only Becky and my mission in Enderly Park, but it is a necessity now that we have two little girls under 3 at home. I can not say that, with our student loan debt and our frozen salaries, we are much better off today than we were 7 years ago financially.  The scary thing is that I can not look 5, 10 years into the future and expect anything to to be different.  The city, county, and state have repeatedly talked about how CMS has the best teachers in the nation and teachers do not get paid enough and that if they were in charge they would pay teachers $xx,xxx so they are paid what they are worth.  The problem is we have been hearing this for years, with frozen salaries for years, and here we sit today 2 days after the county ONCE AGAIN denied teacher raises for next year. 


Not to sound too complainy, but I just wanted to share where the frustration and struggle for my family is.  We have poured our hearts and our lives into our classrooms and schools, to care for and invest in hundreds of other people's children.  It is now time for us to pour our hearts and our lives into Enderly Coffee, our neighborhood Enderly Park, and time to care and invest in OUR own children. 


Photo Credit Charlotte Observer

If you haven't read the article on my teacher-friend Dave Hartzell, check it out now









STEPPING OUT OF THE CLASSROOM AND LEAPING INTO ENDERLY COFFEE


Thank you for joining us in this journey.  Our mission is bigger than just us and our two kids.  We strive to bring great, locally-roasted, artisan coffee to churches, businesses, restaurants, shops, and homes here in Charlotte and beyond.  We strive to enlighten Charlotte that West Charlotte, specifically Enderly Park, is not everything the News says about it.  We strive to give back to the Family Tree, http://qcfamilytree.org/, and as our sales increase, so will our giving.  This will allow our Friends at the Family Tree to focus more on their relationships and ministry, investing in changing and rehabilitating lives. 


Photo Credit Steven Mills Photography and QC Exclusive

As we move forward we invite you to keep in touch, enjoy our coffee, and tell the world about Enderly Coffee.  We are excited for the next steps in our lives, not knowing exactly where they lead. 


Thank you for reading a little more about our story and stay tuned for more. 


Tony Santoro

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