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Joseph: Thank a teacher

Posted: February 12, 2015 12:16 p.m.
Updated: February 13, 2015 1:00 a.m.

At the close of this school year, I will have spent 16 consecutive years at Camden Elementary School, yet in four-months, I will no longer have children meandering through its halls. It will mark the end of countless bagged lunches, signed report cards, book bags and hours of recess. The time we spent there, though a mere singular season of our lives, was good to us and filled with remarkable memories of a myriad of field trips, assemblies and favorite teachers. And in my genuine reflections, what (or who) has made the most significant imprint on my mind? My thoughts are led the front lines and to those charged with the uphill responsibility of inspiring potentials in my children every day -- the teachers.

Consider the job description of a teacher. Now contemplate their duties of creating instructional resources for use in the classroom; planning, preparing, delivering instructional activities; creating positive educational climate for students to learn in; meeting course and school-wide performance goals; participating in ongoing training sessions; developing lesson plans and modifying accordingly; maintaining grade books; writing grant proposals for more funding; creating projects designed to enhance lectures; reading to stay abreast of current topics in education; tutoring students on an individual basis; preparing and distributing required reports; and observing and evaluating student’s performance. Oh wait, I forgot to include the duty of managing student behavior in the classroom by implementing approved disciplinary procedures. I’ll stop here, but understand the above is a deficient list to say the least.

I often think to myself, “Do they (teachers) know they are partially responsible for the mental growth of a large room full of young people? I’d certainly run the other way.” The teaching isn’t just about expanding the borders of our children’s academic knowledge but today’s teachers are becoming immersed in the daily <italic> personal lives </italic> of their students as well. Moments like the aforementioned don’t come with a lesson plan. At times, teachers are called to step outside the books and are called to understand their students without a complete understanding. A teacher must walk in to her classroom and every day armed with the traits of flexibility and patience, optimism, dedication and keeping an open mind no matter what comes up. Throw in roughly 25-plus kids, and a teacher is faced with a test of strength of mind and grit -- five days a week. Again, I’d run the other way.

The capacity for connectedness the teacher and student share reveals itself in distinctive and amazing ways. I am convinced as a parent I could never come close to understanding all that goes on in the classroom. It is much more than we (parents) will ever see, though every year, my understanding reaches a new level as does my respect for my children’s teachers. Teachers advance the minds of their students along a path, ready them for the quest and propel them towards the future, and they do it with passion and hope.

If we look back, most of us have been influenced by teachers in some positive manner, shaped by their words and actions. I know I was. The impact my 5th grade teacher, Mrs. Ruschky had on me is unforgettable. It began with me spelling her name correctly on my first try. It was only up from there. We still to this day stay in touch.

 “Education is not the filling of a pail but the lighting of a fire.” Thank a teacher. 

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