Sunday, September 30, 2012

For Teachers

The halls flood with students, noise erupting from classrooms as the race begins for the door. September rushes to an end, signaling that the school year is well underway, with all its challenges and all its possibilities.

But it’s tough times to be in education. The world devalues what teachers do, tells them they are overpaid and underutilized. Despite the every-increasing demands placed on schools, educators are still viewed in some places as mere purveyors of facts, and the first to be hit by budget cuts to education.

But teachers know they are more than that. In a world that measures people on wealth and appearance, good teachers are gift-bearers and hope-bringers. They embrace our students’ present, and point to their future. They let our children know that they belong now, here, today in their classroom, regardless of what they look like, how they learn, and how well they do. Teachers provide an alternative to the media-centered ideal of what it means to be important and good.

Beyond and above everything else, teachers develop imaginations. They tell their students: imagine what this world could be like if we treated others with respect. Imagine what your future might bring if you just keep trying. Imagine a world of sustainability, justice and peace. Imagine the endless possibilities, like stars across the sky or fractions on the number line.

Teachers give students tools and knowledge, yes, but above all they give them hope. It’s all possible.

When the world tells teachers their work is worth little, I hope they will hold to faith. Because educators are involved in something bigger than themselves, something like hope, something like love. Some days they are the only ones standing between the future and an abyss for a student. Some days they are the only ones to make a child welcome in the world.

So teachers, what you do today matters. Your life, your vocation, is a gift and a blessing. As we head into October, may you keep spreading your blessings widely. It makes all the difference in the world.

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