We become teachers in our disciplines because we were passionate about our subject area. Then we spend much of our career focusing on becoming better teachers. It is easy to lose passion for the topic, or at least not remain engaged in the content area because we have run out of time. If we could find some money and time (and time is money, too) to reconnect with our passions or give attention to some new ones, we become more passionate in the classroom and our students benefit. Wouldn't you want your students to listen to your recounting of the opera you were able to attend last night than the last episode American Idol? While we need to connect to our students' world, we need them to connect to the bigger world we live in. It takes effort to step outside of our small orbit of school and home. Sometimes we can include the students in our adventures but sometimes we just need to spend the time nourishing our own intellects and curiosities and let ourselves be the students, let ourselves be coached. If you could do anything what would you do? Zipline? Skydive? Learn a new language? Knit a sweater? Build a table? When is the last time you stepped out of your comfort zone as a student? You ask this constantly of your students, shouldn't you do the same for yourself?
Having professional development time and money set aside for pursuing passions will be a powerful influence on the whole community. Fountain Valley School of Colorado awards professional development money to applicants who meet certain criteria for just this reason.