Because it hasn't been said enough, I would like to extend a sincere thank you to all of the teachers, aides, school administrators, principals, bus drivers and staff that help educate and take care of our kids. Watching out for our kids and helping provide them with good education is among the most important jobs in our society. I know that as I look back at my own childhood, I can think of many teachers who not only taught me what I needed to know, but who also inspired me to want to learn more. The job of a teacher is incredibly challenging. There is no "one right way" to teach a child. Each kid is an individual, with their own needs, goals, and abilities. Each kid learns in their own way and at their own pace. Every day, in every classroom, teachers, along with the support of the school's staff and administrators, face an enormous challenge. They must balance the effective education that we all expect with the daunting task of completing that mission in a room filled with kids who have their own emotional and educational needs. The best teachers make this balance look easy, but it's not, as I know from my own observations.
My mom taught at a small Catholic elementary school where I grew up in Burlington, Vermont. After retiring from IBM, my dad taught high school before going on to his current position as a Professor in the Computer Science Department at Boston College. Both of them taught me the value of an education, a goal so important to them that after they were done helping me and my brother, they went on to help others further their own education.
Most of what I know about how challenging it is to be a teacher comes from my wife. She is the first-grade teacher at St. Vincent's School in Elm Grove and I'm not sure many people know how hard teachers like her work. After spending all day in the classroom, she comes home and drives our kids around to their various after-school activities. Because I travel so often for work, a lot of time, she has to accomplish all of this by herself. When the after-school activities are finished, the kids and I usually find some time to relax, but she goes back to work. Grading papers, preparing lesson plans, and getting ready for the next day are all things that she does on her own time, when nobody is looking. It is an amazing effort and it happens every day.
Teaching is a true calling. It's hard work and no way to get rich, as we usually understand the word. It is my hope that all teachers and administrators can find encouragement in knowing that they are helping our children become smarter, happier, and more confident people.