Wednesday, May 5, 2010

::stand and deliver

I was raised by two teachers.
My father taught sixth grade for nearly 30 years.
My mother taught fifth grade for 30+ years.
Since my mother's retirement, she has occasionally worked as a substitute (or "Guest Teacher," as they're now christened).

On December 11, she was teaching a fourth-grade class, and learned that one of the students - Jade - was a second-generation pupil under her tutelage; that is, Jade's father had my mother as his fifth-grade teacher.

At some point during the day, the school secretary received a mysterious phone call. A man's voice asked if my mother was teaching in the building that day. The secretary confirmed that she was, and the man said "Okay! That's all I needed to know!"

At the end of the day, Jade's father came to the school and waited outside the classroom, then presented this bouquet of flowers to my mother:

He told her that they were a long-overdue "Thank you" for being such an excellent teacher and an influential force in his life.

That story, as simple as it is, makes me cry.

This is Teacher Appreciation Week.

The work that teachers do is challenging, frustrating, under-appreciated, and often thankless.
The best ones persist because they are tenacious, because they harbor the genuine desire to enrich young minds, and because they know that their labor is not in vain.

I've always found something very mystical about this - the impartation of knowledge from one to another - something almost sacred.

And in today's educational climate, the responsibilities placed on the shoulders of teachers are more plentiful and stressful than ever before.

In order to perform daily duties, their hearts must be gigantic.

For this alone, our appreciation for their everyday efforts ought to be outgrowing itself.

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