We teachers are in the fight of our lives here in my little town. We are fighting for a tax increase in order to make sure that we can keep our class sizes down and get the supplies we need in our classrooms. One cannot argue that we are lacking in this town, but the expectations are high.
I live in the same town I teach in. Therefore, I'm not just fighting for my students, I'm fighting for the educational opportunities for my own children. As I read teachers defending their jobs and defending the work they do each day, I began to think about the teachers that affected my children's paths.
The oldest child had a freshman biology teacher that gave him his first real challenge and encouraged him in such a way that he rose to the challenge rather than letting it defeat him. I'm not sure how she did it, but she did it so beautifully that he didn't even realize that she developed in him a growth mindset that would change his high school course. She created a love of science and encouraged him to take an environmental science class. That class, that coach and teacher, created his desire for his potential college major and has helped him to hone into a university. Mostly because that first teacher took three minutes to speak to an eighth grader to explain why he needed to take Pre-AP Biology and not on level biology.
The oldest child also tried out for drum major his sophomore year and didn't get it. He decided to take that defeat and do something else with his time that he couldn't have done if he were drum major. He began to run cross country for his school. Not the fastest runner, but his coaches still coach him and encourage him and teach him to be better every day. The coaches that aren't just coaching a student in the sport, but coaching them in life and on how to be a better adult.
The middle child fell apart one day early in sixth grade. She was unorganized and frustrated. She left her class to go get something out of her locker, but instead sat at her locker in an empty hallway and cried tears of frustration. A teacher stopped and helped my tearful child organize her locker and her binder and reassured her. This teacher was either on her lunch or had her planning period, but stopped and took the time to help a student that wasn't one of hers. I don't think I ever knew that teacher's name that changed the course of my daughter's middle school career.
During eighth grade, the middle child was struggling with anxiety. She often wasn't able to stay in class and would escape in an attempt to manage her anxiety. She found herself sitting in the Assistant Principal's Secretary's office. This was in no way her job, but she knew she could comfort my daughter and she knew she was almost always there to be a safe haven until the anxiety subsided.
These are just the examples that I know about. These are just the examples from the last four years, from two of my children. These are educators who didn't just do what was in their contract, they did what was in their heart. This is not something that I can repay to these men and women. These are teachers who truly care about their students and will do what it takes to educate them. There are not enough tax dollars in the world to express the impact that just one person can have on children.
I can only repay them by paying it forward to other students and parents. You never know when you will be an inspiration to a student.