When I first joined the Foundation for Excellence in Education, I arrived knowing I had a lot to learn about education and teachers. Unlike many of my coworkers – former educators, education policy experts and parents – I don’t have a teaching background, nor do I have children.
But just a few weeks in, I found myself excited to have conversations about education and reform. Friends noticed, making comments like, “wow, you sound really into this.” Yes. It’s because I’m awake to proof positive reform works, and I am reminded daily of why teaching is known as “the noblest profession.”
Not everyone is cut out for teaching. Those who do it well possess qualities to be admired, including patience, creativity and dedication. When you look at the facts in Florida, you see a bright spot where teachers are helping to move the state in the right direction. We see results pouring in over and over again: Graduation rates moving higher. School grades getting better. Student achievement rankings climbing. The most recent evidence was Florida’s top spot on the Progress in International Reading Literacy Study, showing the state’s fourth grade students are reading better than most in the world.
These very real results happen with the very real work teachers are doing in and outside of classrooms on a daily basis. Teachers deserve our congratulations and our thanks, but not just for their contributions to academic improvements. They do more than teach. We all have teachers who stand out in our minds as going above and beyond. For me, it’s my middle school English teacher, Mrs. Krumens, who helped me fall in love with grammar and poetry and kindly allowed me to skip reading aloud in class the day I got a retainer. Or Mrs. Croke, my kindergarten teacher, who helped pull loose teeth.
I know I am not alone in looking at teachers a little differently after the unthinkable events at Sandy Hook elementary. Teachers showed such devotion last week in Newtown, Connecticut, acting bravely to protect students, some giving their own lives.
When parents send their children off to school, they leave them in the trusted hands of teachers – that is a responsibility and a calling that deserves our sincerest appreciation. Teaching is indeed the noblest of professions, and to all current and former teachers, I say “thank you.”
Learn more about ways to thank teachers at www.excelined.org/thankyou.