The 2018-19 school year has drawn to a close, and it’s a most opportune occasion to reflect on the contributions and sacrifices of our state’s teachers. Educating students, whatever grade and whatever age, takes dedication to a purpose larger than yourself.
Teaching is, in large part, dedication to a future that you will never see.
Parents are familiar with this notion, but they tend to focus through the lens of their children’s lives and accomplishments. Teachers work with hundreds upon hundreds of children throughout their careers. Hundreds of children who will become the leaders, business people and educators of tomorrow.
The poet Carl Sandburg one sad that “a baby is God's opinion that life should go on.” We would suggest that teachers are God’s belief that the knowledge and structures we have created in this world should persist in generations to come. They are God’s belief that our children learn how to think and reason at high levels.
Teachers must also navigate the most controversial and pressing issues of the day. Beyond teaching the foundational subjects of reading and math, they are also preparing students for a new world in which political debate has been heightened to a forever war, one in which climate change threatens the very spaces in which we live, and one in which attention is being paid as never before to the very structures and shape of our society.
Teachers aren’t there to offer easy solutions, either. They are there to show and teach students how to approach these challenges and how to think about them on their own.
Over the summer, we hope the teachers get an opportunity for well-deserved rest and preparation for the upcoming school year. And we hope that their students continue challenging themselves with summertime programs.
For the rest of us, this should be a time to reflect on what we gained from our own schooling. Perhaps we should reach out to let our own teachers know how much they mean to us. Perhaps we should take a class and further our own education. The opportunities — and possibilities — are vast. And we have an entire warm summer to explore.
When the middle of August arrives, we will be delighted to see everyone trooping into the hallways of their schools again, ready to learn, ready to explore and ready to build the world of the future.