Thanking Our Teachers-Our Unsung Heroes

It’s Teacher Appreciation Week, a week dedicated to showing teachers and staff in schools across the nation appreciation for the important roles they play in the lives of our young people.

Teachers today, now more than ever, wear multiple hats, as this image from Bored Teachers depicts. For some kids, their teacher is also a caregiver, a mentor, a sense of security, and the constant in their lives. Their teacher may be the only person who believes in them and cheers them on through their daily struggles. One teacher who comes to mind, that we’ve had the pleasure to work with—Michael Bonner. We hosted Michael in 2017 on our campus. He caught our attention on the Ellen Show, which featured his classroom and students, highlighting how they learn in non-traditional ways. He spoke about “unpacking kids’ backpacks” as they enter the classroom for the day. That sometimes he needed to help them deal with something that happened outside of the classroom before he could dig in, inside the classroom. Michael has since announced his new role at the Ron Clark Academy.

Along with Michael, we hosted Dr. Maurice Swinney, a high school principal in the Chicago Public School system, who worked hard to make connections with his students. Dr. Swinney wrote, “The best thing that I have seen in my school is my faculty and staff’s ability to wear multiple hats and continue to do an incredible job on a daily basis.” He called it a “phenomenon.” “My teachers and staff perform miracles in the face of lack of resources, a disproportionate number of diverse learners, and limited time to complete tasks. We believe that all students deserve a robust high school experience like students in well-funded schools across the city and country.” He has since taken on the Chief Equity Officer position within the district.

This year, we have heard from college students giving thanks to a special teacher or two, who helped them find their way. Bre wrote about Mrs. Jensen: “Mrs. Lynn Jensen took me under her wing and helped me grow into the strong woman I am today. She listened to me without judgment, always offered incredible advice, and pushed me to work harder. Without her, I don’t know who I would be.”

As our CEO, Marten Roorda, wrote in his teacher appreciation blog this week, we are facing a teacher shortage in a time we cannot afford to have one. This shortage places a strain on the teachers and staff already in place in those buildings, potentially reducing time available for our most vulnerable students. As someone who comes from a line of educators and is currently married to one, I know our future won’t be bright if we don’t fill our schools with educators who are ready and willing to help their students succeed every day. The job isn’t a nine-to-five one. It’s often a “seven days a week, work until the work is done” one and sometimes goes unnoticed.

There are unsung heroes in all of our schools. The teaching profession is a tough one, however filled with many priceless rewards. I don’t know a teacher who regrets entering the profession, however I do know teachers who struggle keeping up with the demands of it all. So, to all the teachers in my life, past and present, THANK YOU for all that you have done and continue to do for our young people. You are truly creating our future on a daily basis. THANK YOU for the personal sacrifices you make every school year. It all MATTERS.

If you haven’t already, please take a moment to thank a teacher. A past one or a current one. They would love to hear from you, I am sure of it. It might help fill their bucket and get them through the day. Or join the movement on Twitter, and #ThankATeacher.