Some say that teaching is a calling while skeptics say that people become teachers for summer’s off and working 9 to 3 for huge amounts of money. Being in the field for nearly 25 years and speaking from experience, those skeptics need to take a hike, or better yet, put on the shoes of a teacher and take a 180 day walk. The teachers we have in Millstone Township defy those skeptic sentiments each and every day. In fact, they would be begging for a day to truly be from 9-3 and not have hours of take home work, weekend planning and grading, and even the time they spend considering individual needs of their students and consulting with other professionals on those tough cases and the best way to work with a student towards success. So for those that still want to harp on that 9-3 FALSE statement, I challenge any one of you to pick up the torch and stand in front of twenty 7-year olds making sure they learn how to read, have strong number sense, have a solid foundation in history and science and learn how to be part of a group as well as work independently, all the while managing their individual learning needs, counseling them as needed and communicating to their families.
But I know why they get the reputation of 9-3. Because they don’t show it! They do their jobs seamlessly and as a matter of course. In other words, they make it look easy!
Nothing written above is to take away anything from the other hard working people in their professions, but for me, as a Superintendent of Schools, I know just what our teachers put into this profession and know what it means to them to make sure that the children they teach are successful. I also know the pain they feel when they have not been successful and how they beat themselves up far worse than anyone else can. They take pride in their work and the success of their students; they lose sleep over them and in many instances the students will be what encompasses their thoughts. In fact, many teachers leave their own children in the care of another, while they come to school to care for ours. They are gracious, giving, caring individuals who make it possible for us parents to do what we need to do for our families knowing that our children are in good hands and learning each day. Teachers make that possible and I know I owe them my thanks.
What is needed now is for our state and society to “flip the message” about our teachers and spend their energy praising and thanking our teachers for being the gatekeepers to ensuring that our children grow to be incredible global citizens ready and willing to handle the challenges ahead. My request of you during this week of Teacher Appreciation and long beyond is to make it your business to thank a teacher, reach out and show them just how important they are to your children now, or were to you when you were a student. Write a letter, send an email or do whatever you feel will show them just how important they are or have been in your life.
I will conclude with my quick story about Mr. Long, my Junior year Language Arts Teacher. Mr. Long was a physically intimidating figure. If my memory serves me well, he was over 6 feet tall and probably in the 225+ weight range and a deep, deep voice. Let’s just say that you did not misbehave in Mr. Long’s class. Although I do remember his physical stature, what I remember far more is the expectations he held for his students and even more so, the expectations he held for himself. Mr. Long wore his college ring with pride and talked about his experience in his post grad work. He modeled learning for his class. His specialty was timely feedback. I just never understood how he did it (even to this day), but Mr. Long handed back every paper submitted…the very next day, fully vetted with red pen corrections and comments that made us better writers. No matter what, the 2-3 page essays handed in by who knows how many students, all came back the very next day. How impressive to not just talk about work ethic, but live it and model it. Lastly, I recall that Mr. Long needed to be out for a kidney issue (maybe a stone or the like). I remember this for a few reasons. First, he WAS NEVER OUT! In fact, I do recall that this may have been his first day of absence in years. Second, although I cannot remember the details, the situation was one that any “normal” person would have taken far more than a day to address, but Mr. Long was back the very next day commanding the class as if nothing ever happened. Mr. Long is not alone in the field of teachers that treat their “job” as a profession. We all have a teacher we remember with similar stories. Take this week to find that teacher and send them a note. And don’t forget to do the same for a teacher in Millstone, or your child’s school district, doing it for your child right now!
Congratulations to all of our teachers for being inspirations to children!
Superintendent of the Millstone Township Schools