By Ana Lewis
“When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.”
— origin obscure
While examining this month’s topic on Education, I found myself continually thinking of the fabulous teachers I have had in my life.
- My kindergarten teacher who spent extra time listening to my outlandish five-year-old dreams.
- My first grade teacher who hugged me and cried on the last day of school, and the first day of the next year when I would no longer be in her class.
- The Principal I had in grade school, middle school and high school, who told me he was following us throughout our school years to keep an eye on us all.
- The same Principal who broke through a riot at our high school (I was stuck in the dangerous center) in order to get to me and protect me all the way out. He also sent me home for a few days for my safety.
- My high school journalism teacher who called me at home and asked if I would like to go to Phoenix with her to attend a press conference featuring Gloria Steinem. (Heck yeah!)
- The teachers I babysat for, hiked with and visited at their homes. They were beyond teachers, they were also friends. Inspirational, caring friends. Never was there anything inappropriate directed at me… well, except for the time that my boyfriend and I were unlawfully in an X-rated movie theater and we saw the Dean. Of course, I said hello to him and waved as he slunk down in his chair. But, that was not toward me, that was just an awkward, funny moment. We were the ones breaking the law.
- Lastly, the anthropology teacher that clapped her hands and cheered when I made my presentation on “Primate Pharmaceuticals”. Her spirit and enthusiasm made me love anthropology even more.
We all have teachers and educators in our lives who stick with us in our hearts. They don’t even know how they have become unheralded heroines/heroes. They don’t receive the glory and appreciation that they deserve. How can we do a better job respecting the commitment and skill that so many teachers showcase?
Here are a few suggestions taken from articles on the National Education Association website:
- Follow the standard set by China and Malaysia, where teachers are on the same par as doctors in terms of respect. Where Do Teachers Get the Most Respect?
- Guarantee them fair wages. Currently, the U.S. public thinks that teachers are underpaid by $7,500.
- Recognize teachers as being influential to our children and to our society.
- Support Red for Ed
- Vote for pro-public education officials.
Here’s a small suggestion from my own personal experience. Go onto Facebook and search for your favorite teachers. I am fortunate enough, along with many of my classmates, to have reconnected to our high school choir director. He was so very young when he was our teacher, and never made our choir about talent. He could teach us to sing, but he couldn’t teach us to have a good attitude, be enthusiastic learners and to be willing to work together — and those are the features he would look for when recruiting people to be in choir. His ability to look beyond the music and dig beneath the surface helped to mold us all and expand our self-esteem for many years to come. Recently, we had a choir reunion where many of us got to thank him in person for being one our best teachers ever and giving him a hug. He’s still a teacher and much loved by his students. And, being his “friend” on Facebook, I witness this on a regular basis.