The school year is about to begin, and before I forget, I want to say thank you for teaching our kids.
I can only assume that you, like the rest of us, probably look to the new school year with mixed feelings. Maybe you’ve had a great summer, filled with vacations and gardening and reading books and playing on summer ball leagues. Now it’s time for reviewing student handbooks and school policies, making lesson plans and corralling students back into the school routine.
I want you to know, teachers, that I don’t take you for granted, or your responsibility lightly, as you head back to school. We are placing our children, our grandchildren, into your hands for six hours and more a day, five days a week, for most of the next nine months.
I assume most of you went into teaching because you love children and you love the process of helping kids learn. But I also assume that there can be hard days as a teacher and that many of you may grow weary at times during your work day, just like I do.
I want to encourage you to remember each day matters because years from now, those students whom you have in your classrooms today will remember you by name. They will remember you for the concepts and lessons you taught them but also for how you made them feel when they sat in your class.
I had some good teachers through the years who cared about teaching not only facts and precepts, but who also made me believe they cared about me. I owe them so much.
In grade school, Mrs. Brieser coaxed me into realizing there was a bigger world outside my hometown through the books she read to our class. With Mrs. Taylor, I felt secure and accepted in spite of my imperfections because she was patient and didn’t make fun of me when I couldn’t correctly pronounce the word “boil” repeatedly. Mrs. Gimbal taught me it was OK to have fun in school, to lighten up and not get bogged down too much. Mrs. Tobin didn’t yell at me when I didn’t turn in my report on Mexico, even though I had it done, but she seemed to understand without saying the words that I was still adjusting to the death of my dad.
In high school, Mrs. Schertz made me feel smarter than I was and modeled to me that it was OK, even good, to challenge and question things. Mr. Prusator gave me a sense of value and worth when he told me I needed to go to college, even when it seemed so far beyond my reach.
So as you begin your school year, teachers, know that I appreciate you. I realize our kids and grandkids aren’t always going to be easy to handle. I realize you’d probably like to have classes about half the size you have now. I realize school is very different today than when I was growing up, with so much more expected of our students, and therefore, of our teachers.
But thanks for taking on the challenge, teachers. We are indebted to you.
Shaw Media Staff Writer Donna Barker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.