''I'm no doomsayer by any stretch of the imagination, especially about the profession I love, but I had to catch my breath on two occasions recently - and both were direct results of my being honored as Teacher of the Year,'' says Lee Hay, a communications teacher at the senior high school in Manchester, Conn.
''The first is when I received a phone call from the White House to inform me that I had been appointed to the Commission on Presidential Scholars.
''The secretary who called me stressed that I was a tentative appointee until my financial disclosure form was processed and checked. Then, without hesitation , the secretary said, 'Oh, you're a schoolteacher, aren't you? Then there won't be any problem.' '' She was referring to the low pay of most teachers.
The second was much more troubling - and humbling, says Mr. Hay. He was at the White House for a meeting of the presidential scholars.
''There are 141 students chosen from all over the country to be presidential scholars. They are selected from a group of 4,000 students who have the highest SAT [Scholastic Aptitude Test] scores for that year. We all met at the White House and when Secretary of Education Terrel Bell asked the group how many wanted to go into teaching - not one raised their hand.''