It’s that time of year when school is drawing to a close and students, their parents and the community as a whole are given the opportunity to show their appreciation for a “job well done” to teachers in the local school system. And there’s no time like the present, since this is Teacher Appreciation Week.
In addition to being appreciative of your children’s education, it’s also a great time to thank the teachers who have influenced your own life... to let them know how much you appreciated their unselfish dedication and to say thanks for that special attention they gave you.
I’ve written before about a few of my favorite teachers — those whose lessons I still keep tucked away in my heart... the ones who come to mind at the most unexpected tiems due to circumstances or situations.
I hold dear Miss Helen’s zest for life, I remember Mrs. Austin’s kindness in helping me accept that I had to wear glasses to see the board, Miss Holler’s insistence on good penmanship, Mrs. Cook’s methods of creative teaching, Mrs. Whaley’s desire for orderly conduct...and no gum chewing, Mrs. Culter’s and Mrs. Crosson’s inspiration to read, Mrs. Adsit’s acceptance and genuine warmth, Mr. Zimmerman’s permission to explore, Mrs. O’Neal’s encouragement to be myself, Mrs. Petersen’s insistence that we “learn...not memorize,” Mr. Hall’s hands-on science lab, Mrs. Walker’s friendly push for perfection, Mrs. Hall’s positive attitude, Mrs. Newman’s montra that you don’t just coast...you learn the subject, Mrs. Mize’s you-can-do-it-go-for-it attitude, Coach Tipps’ methods that made math enjoyable, Mr. Giddens’ expectations to always do my best and Mrs. Harrington’s belief in my abilities...and that’s naming only a handful of the teachers I remember so well.
My daughter, Libby, is a kindergarten teacher and I’ve enjoyed visiting her classroom on a regular basis. I enjoy the “energy” young children provide — but I’m only there for a short period. Following a recent visit, I thought to myself, “Every teacher ought to have an assistant...that’s a room full of life changing responsibility!”
Then I laughed at myself! Oklahoma is making it nearly impossible to pay teachers, let alone an equal set of helpers! Nearly 20 school districts were unable to make payroll last month. School budgets have been slashed, forcing all kinds of cuts that ultimately hurt our children’s education. Tulsa Schools just announced the termination of dozens of teachers as part of its cost saving measures. What’s happening is nothing less than detrimental to the education system.
There’s really only one word for the situation we’re in as a state...and that’s ridiculous. You’d think there would be more of an outcry...more possible solutions presented. Instead, it’s as though we step back and accept a new reality.
My teachers deserved better. So does my daughter.