To the Editor:
The clock is ticking, the days are counting down to that most wonderful time of the year. School is out for the summer, and none too soon. The end of every school year is, undoubtedly, one that is greeted with happy faces and open arms. It’s the milestone of another year under our belts, as students, as teachers, as parents. It’s bittersweet and fabulous at the same time.
When my kids were little, I would always feel a sense of sadness on the last day of school. This feeling wasn’t because my kids would be home with me all day, every day of the summer. I loved summertime just because of that. I’d have them home with me.
It was because for the last 9½ months of the year they spent such valuable time with their teachers, moments that only they could have experienced with this one special person, had come to an end. It’s impossible to put into words all the things they would be taught in their classrooms, all the things that went beyond the books and the tests. School is such an enormous piece of our children’s soul. The time spent in the classroom, in the schoolyard, the after school activities, all these experiences contribute to the overall creation of our children’s character and resilience. It’s a piece of the puzzle. It’s as important as the academics. It’s yet another milestone in our kid’s lives.
What they don’t realize is the impact of their teachers. They don’t see all of the changes in themselves because they are in it. They can’t recognize the accomplishments, the leaps and bounds, the small and the big progressions, the effort that doesn’t go unnoticed. They are kids and that doesn’t need to their concern at that moment in time.
But we, as their parents, do see the big picture. We see them grow, literally and figuratively. We know where they started at the beginning of the year and where they end up as the last day appears. It’s hard to sum up a year that is so jam packed with importance, with opportunities filled with life lessons. It’s just not possible to adequately summarize what a school year entails.
Having spent 29 continuous years with a child or two in school, I’ll admit it was a marathon of homework, lunches, field trips, concerts, games and meets, open house, volunteering, rides to and from, late nights, early mornings of all things “school”. I was in it, so I didn’t see the big picture. I knew it was a huge part of their lives, I understood the blueprint that was being etched in each of them.
Education was top priority. It was their “job” as school aged kids to go to school and do what was expected of them...their best.
Each child different, yet each required to bring their best. The value of education was expressed early on, even before they stepped into their first classroom. Communicated by words and actions that this part of their lives was so very important, so very exciting, so very crucial to who they would become.
I think there is something missing today. I think the education of our children is looked at with a different lens. It’s not seen as privilege, even though we know it’s a right. Looking at it as just something we do, instead of something we are so fortunate to be able to do, that may be a hint as to why. Perhaps, the way we represent the importance of education, the consequences, the weightiness of their schooling has changed. Maybe it’s the time we find ourselves in today. I’d like to think we all share the philosophy of educating our children as one of our most important jobs as parents. I can’t imagine otherwise.
Sadly, teachers aren’t revered anymore, they are blamed. Grades should never be indicative of the value of our children, but society has made that the benchmark. Inclusiveness hasn’t become the movement for fairness and change it is meant to be, but in fact at times, has become a “not in my child’s classroom” issue.
When we worry more about the standings of our teams, then the instruction and well being of our kids, there is a disconnect. This is not a dismissal of school sports by any means. I was a school athlete, as all my children played sports in school. Sports along with the arts and music, and all the numerous activities and clubs that compliment the education of our children... it’s all important. Education must come first, the significance and consequence of education is what will move us all forward.
There will always be arguments over what’s best, what’s needed, what’s not working and what is. It’s human nature to take sides, because we are all individuals, all different. A healthy discussion, a worthy dialogue, an intelligent exchange, all necessary to bring about a better understanding of what is truly imperative to define what education must become.
I often think why things are so different, so complicated with education today? Why do we always try to fix things that might not be broke, but may just need a little updating.
And when did the vocation of teaching become a battlefield for so many? Our teachers are in charge of our most precious gifts. They are faced with so many obstacles each and every day. If you have never spent a day in a classroom you have no idea and certainly no right to criticize, complain or dismiss what a teacher does each and every day. It’s takes a very hearty soul, a Herculean effort and a passion to teach today. It is a calling, a vocation to serve for the betterment of others. Teachers are the second team, after parents, coaching and preparing our children for the big game... their future.
So as the last test is graded, the books returned and the classroom packed till next year, think back on your time spent in school, with your teachers, and be grateful. Think about your children’s time in school, then or now and be grateful.
One of the most important lessons we should be teaching our kids, in and out of school, is to be mindful and thankful. Thankful for those who are placed in our lives to help us bring out our best, to help us find our strengths, who give us the tools to move forward, who contribute parts of themselves to help create ourselves.
Never underestimate the impact and the influence of your children’s teachers. I am forever beholden and grateful for each and every teacher my children had in their lives. And if I needed any more reason to believe that teachers are life changers?
I have one daughter who is a teacher and another daughter who will soon become one. Now I have two more teachers that I am thankful for. Teachers that I get to call my own. I couldn’t be prouder.