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I've Seen Teachers

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Many of my school news stories cover the leaky roofs, the fights, the weapons, the dress code complaints, and the overcrowded classrooms and buses.

The majority of school stories, however, involve positive aspects of education. Many of those stories go relatively unnoticed.

I suppose that’s human nature.  Some weeks, nine out of ten school-related stories will be positive. I often get no feedback about those stories, but the negative one is sure to strike a chord.  It will be waved in my face repeatedly as an example of negative media.  This occurs, despite the fact some of these stories help spur elected officials into noticing the problems and spending the money to solve them.

Through it all, I’ve tried to become a keen observer. I’ve seen some amazing people in those school hallways, and I’d like to tell you about them.

I’ve seen:

Teachers who arrive early and stay late.

Principals who constantly brag on their faculty and staff, and will tell you they have the best anywhere.

Spouses, parents and children of teachers and principals, who paint, sweep, and do whatever it takes to make the classroom an inviting place for children. None of them get a dime from taxpayers for their work.

Teachers who take it upon themselves to set a good example by looking their students in the eye, speaking clearly, giving a firm handshake, dressing professionally, and writing thank-you notes for kindnesses shown.

Teachers who attend and cheer at their students’ athletic events, whether they understand or even like the sport.  It’s their team, and they are in the stands to show their support.

Teachers who spend much of their personal time acting as surrogate parents, nurses or psychologists.

Art, music, and drama teachers who take children from the poorest homes, and find the hidden talent that allows them to shine as artists, singers, dancers, or actors.

Vocational/technical teachers who turn students into well-paid welders, mechanics, carpenters, beauticians, graphic artists, or computer programmers.

Teachers of gifted and advanced students who find ways to challenge them and make them aspire to be even better.

Teachers of the physically disabled.  They are the angels among us who perform miracles every day.  From the tiniest preschoolers to the brawniest teens, these superhuman teachers tend to their every need.  They nurture, feed, and lift up those children in every way.

Coaches, club and cheerleader sponsors, band directors, and music teachers who are forced to spend much of their spare time being fund raisers.

Teachers who spend a full workday dealing with homework and testing, who then go home and spend an entire evening helping their own children with these same chores.

Teachers who see that their students get something for their birthday, or for Christmas, because in some homes, this will not be done.

Teachers who request to be transferred to a low-performing, low income school, because they know those students need something extra.

Teachers who are greeted warmly in public by someone who says, “Mrs. Smith, do you remember me from fifth grade?” More often than not, she remembers.  That always amazes me, because Mrs. Smith has taught hundreds of fifth-graders.  But to each of them, she’s the only fifth-grade teacher they ever had.

Teachers who spend time in the summer decorating their classroom with maps and posters, only to learn they will have to take it all down and start over when they’re transferred to another room, or even another school.

Teachers and principals who perform all sorts of stunts as incentives to get students fired up about meeting their goals.  From being duct-taped to the wall, to taking pies in the face, they do whatever it takes.

Teachers who buy clothing and shoes for their students, take them trick-or-treating, or make sure they have Thanksgiving dinner.

High school counselors, who make sure students are ready to take college entrance exams, fill out job applications, and perform well in job interviews.

Teachers who come to work even when they’re ill because they know a qualified substitute won’t be available, and they don’t want to burden a fellow teacher, or shortchange their students.

Teachers and principals who keep working long past their retirement eligibility date, because they love what they do.

Coaches who go out of their way to pick up a child and take him to practice, knowing that sports may be what keeps him in school.

Every day, I see something new.  I hope this helps explains why I admire so many of the people I’ve met on the school beat.

Many of us don’t take time to say it, but believe me, teachers and principals, you are appreciated.  Congratulations on being a part of this most challenging and honorable profession.  You get to teach!

From David Carroll's ChattanoogaRadioTV.com

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