Michelle Young is making a major change in her career.
"I have decided to step out of the classroom," Michelle said while tearing up. "Bear with me here, this can be emotional."
As Michelle noted, "it has been an incredibly heavy week as a teacher" as well as a "completely wild" year for her personally.
"It's been something that I couldn't even imagine, you know, starting the school year as Ms. Young and Ms. Young the Bachelorette," she said. "It has been a complete whirlwind hanging out with my students, teaching in the classroom and then living that double life as a Bachelorette, walking red carpets and going to premieres and wow have things changed. It has really got me in this reflective mindset."
As the educator from Minnesota explained, a few weeks ago, she was talking to a colleague who "did a mental health check-in" and asked how she was feeling.
"I've been in this survival mode two years where I have just been flying by the seat of my pants but really not necessarily living or just surviving with the pandemic, with going through these crazy but awesome changes [with] the show, with getting a fiancé," she said. "There's just so much going on."
The 28-year-old, who got engaged to Nayte Olukoya on season 18 of The Bachelorette, said taking this time to reflect "highlighted the fact that there's so much going on with our education system." And ultimately, her decision to step back from teaching was twofold.
"I've decided to step out of the classroom because I need to make sure that, one, I'm taking care of myself," she said, "but, two, those teachers and those who are in the profession know that teaching is a profession that is completely built on passion....The amazing thing about that is a lot of wonderful things can come from that. The difficult part of that, and the realistic side of that, is that when it's built on passion, if those people who are in those foundations aren't valued, if they're not supported, if they're not taken care of, if they're not listened to, that foundation starts to crack. And I think you can talk to pretty much any teacher, and they will tell you that these last two years have been really difficult with the pandemic. And even before the pandemic, the foundation was already starting to crack."
So while Michelle loves teaching, she plans to work outside the classroom to drive change, such as by giving back and raising awareness for teacher mental health, and explore other opportunities.
"I'm known as the Bachelorette Ms. Young, which is a great thing but it's also this pressure that I always have to be a teacher," she said. "And I love teaching, and I'm also burned-out on teaching. And I'm also more than just a teacher. And I really admire and respect the teachers who are returning to the classroom next year, and I also really respect the teachers and educators who are not returning and are able to make that choice because it's not an easy one at that."
However, Michelle noted this move might not be forever. "This doesn't mean that I'm never going to step back in the classroom," she said. "This doesn't necessarily mean that I'm not going to continue, you know, working towards a master's in administration and potentially get back into that direct line of education. But it's me stepping away for a year to truly capitalize and push forward and put all my energy and efforts into my passion in a different way and really truly try to push for that change. Because staying in the classroom and seeing and feeling that weight just shows me that something has to be done."