I thought it would be the career I retired from. Like many others, I wanted to give it twenty plus years and happily serve my city, my community and most importantly the students in such a capacity that is undeniably one of the greatest influences in a child's life, point blank period. I would not even make it to half of that twenty years before "retiring" long before "official" retiring years. But my years in the classroom taught me several things:
1. Every child is indeed different. And they each have a different need from you the teacher.
2. There's no way you can truly get it all in a 55-minute class period (I taught middle and high school) or a 7-8 hour school day.
3. Parents need us more than we think. Each day, they send their very best to us hoping we can partner with them in the growth and rearing of their child/ren.
4. When it comes down to the challenges of the educational system, I don't blame anyone. Everyone has a hand and responsibility in this.
5. I applaud each teacher that still every day wakes up and embraces the truths of #1-3 and the harsh reality of #4. My heart goes out daily.
I've had the opportunity of meeting and working with some amazing teachers across this city and the entire country. Somewhere in the teacher hall of fame, they're listed as rock stars for what they do in the lives of students daily. No amount of money could match up the contributions of teachers, and the impact is crossing the path of at least one great teacher could have or has on a child.
So from one lifelong educator to another, I salute all teachers. For your tireless efforts, enthusiastic mannerisms, and the undying passion for impacting the lives of students, please know that the work does not go unnoticed.
In times when it seems most dim and disheartening due to being seemingly overlooked, underpaid and unappreciated, I encourage you to remember the smiles that you put on faces and the seeds that you willingly sow into the lives of those who have no idea that one day they are going to look back and thank you for being, if nothing else, present in their life.
I would like to personally shout out all of my teachers who ever had the privilege of dealing with me. I was fortunate to have some progressive educators at Bethel Grove Elementary, Sherwood Middle, and Hillcrest High. It was Mrs. Brenda Lewis that comforted me the year my dad passed and helped me to make the huge adjustment of not having my father alive. What does that look like for a 10-year old? But it would be my Bethe Grove family that helped me maneuver through those beginning years and ensuring I continued down a road of academic excellence because my dad wouldn't have it any other way. It was Mr. Norwood, my 7th grade English teacher, that would introduce me to the wonderful world of Literature through the lens of Anne Frank and the story of the Holocaust. In high school, it would be Mrs. Yvette Oliver-Robertson that introduced this new English curriculum called Pathways that brought the classroom learning experience alive to my peers and me. I remember English 10 Honors class being exciting, intriguing and finally challenging me enough to do more than talk in class. I am grateful for every seed sown, every conversation and hug, every push and even every "N' in conduct that was well-deserved.
It's those memories that I carry with me even now. And as an educator, it's those pieces that I've tried to hold onto and make a part of my personal and professional brand as an Educator.
The crossing of paths with a charismatic teacher is priceless. The benefits are endless, and the impact is mountainous. Hats off to every person that has dedicated their life to empowering the minds of students. A week is not enough to honor what you do daily but hopefully, it's at least an opportunity to say thank you and where would each of us be without teachers.