As we debate schools reopening in the midst of a pandemic, this seems like a perfect time to say a few words of praise for teachers who work in our public and private school systems across the country and around the world.
Teachers have been very important in my life. I am married to a retired teacher. One sister is a librarian (another form of teaching) as was my mother, and the other sister trained in education and used those skills in various ways with preschoolers. My sister-in-law is a retired teacher, and I have nieces who are currently public school teachers. In almost 20 years of formal education and 65 years of informal learning in the world, I’ve had many teachers — a number of which I remember very fondly and a few of which changed my life.
Every now and then I find a link that sends me to Twitter and today was one of those days. Connie Schultz is a Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist, author, and professor who lives in Cleveland, Ohio.* She recently had a feed that told why teachers matter. You can click on the link above to see her feed (and retweet it if you are on the platform), but I’ll lay it out here for those of us who prefer our thoughts in more than just a handful of characters at a time.
When I was 6 years old, right after first grade had ended, my teacher invited my mother & me to her home. Unthinkable! We wore Sunday clothes. I was so nervous & excited that I sat wedged next to Mom on Mrs. Behrendt’s sofa. I remember two things about what came next.
Mrs. Behrendt gave me this framed Award of Honor, signed by her and the principal — and the superintendent! Mom talked about that for weeks. It was displayed on our dining room wall for years.
As we were preparing to leave that day, Mom walked onto the front porch and Mrs. Behrendt pulled me back for a hug and whispered into my ear, “You are a very smart little girl. Let the grown-ups worry about grown-up problems.”
Her secret message is why this award still hangs in my home. My teacher knew me better than any other person in my life. I learned early why teachers matter. So many parents have learned firsthand during this pandemic how hard it is to teach. Now is the time to advocate.
Most teachers never come close to making what they earn, but they show up anyway, day after day. No teacher should be returning to classrooms in districts that refuse to protect them, and all the staff that keep schools running.
This is a grown-up problem, and it is ours to solve. Our teachers need us.Connie Schultz
That says it all. Let’s work to support our teachers. Their lives, and the lives of our children, depend upon it.
More to come…
*I notice in her feed that Schultz grew up in Ashtabula, Ohio, which was the hometown of one of my most important mentors and teachers. Must have been something in the water.