May 20, 2020 08:00am
Open Letter to Those Heroic Teachers

Dear Teachers,

THANK YOU! Two simple words that say so much, yet not quite enough. Especially this year, this crazy, corona virus/Covid-19, quarantined, locked down, teaching online, insane 2020!

I’ve watched, in tears, many news stories of teachers going above and beyond to reach out to their students. I’ve seen principals drive around their county delivering diplomas as well as posters made by teachers. I’ve watched school nurses go back into front line work. It seems that I, and all of you have, have one common goal in mind: What is best for my students. And for that I say,“Thank you!”

As I sit here in my house, with me on one laptop and my child on the other, I think back over her and her brother’s school years. (My son graduated last year and my daughter is wrapping up her freshman year.) I think of the preschool teachers that patiently taught them their ABCs, suffered through their nap times when they wouldn’t sleep, and still hugged them tight at the end of each school day. 

Then I thought about the kindergarten teachers who taught them that they could be anything they wanted to be but to never forget the simple things learned in her classroom. 

Next I thought about the elementary years where kids’ personalities form as quickly as their friendships. Where their teachers were my kids’ favorite people on the planet because they showed them cool science experiments, made math fun, and read books that carried them to faraway lands or out of space or even back in time. 

Those precious elementary teachers who are expected to be teacher, counselor, nurse, referee, traffic controller, and above all, love our babies like we do. My expectations were high and most met and exceeded the goals we laid before them. They did it all with a 15-minute lunch break that included a run to the restroom and a quick phone call. Kudos, elementary teachers, you are all truly superheroes!

And then I think of the middle school years. Those tough years when friends from elementary pass them in the hallway and don’t even look your direction. The puberty years when the hallways smell very interesting, first pimples appear, recess is no more and they pick up their first band instruments or play on their first school sports teams. 

Middle school teachers get those ‘tween years – not a child, but not quite a teen. These teachers can help a child soar. They can see past the fidgety, frizzy heads of students right to their hearts. They can see the struggles and make changes to help them rise to their full potential, They are the trainers for the years to come. They teach a few tricks of learning and can change a life. Heroes, all of you!

Then there are those precious junior high years. Those years when the whole boyfriend/girlfriend thing gets real and teachers have to become love therapists as well.  When teachers are constantly searching for ways to make algebra and English more interesting than the latest Snapchat filter or Instagram story. 

It’s the age that can be ruthless; and wise, loving teachers look beyond those students and know there is always more to the story. I’ve always believed it takes a very special kind of person to deal with junior high-aged kids, and after living through the raising of one child and another wrapping up her junior high years, I’m even more convinced of this. 

To you junior high teachers, let me say a special thank you during these days. 

To the algebra teachers who Zoom algebra lessons and keep inspiring students to try their best, that they’ve got this: Thank you! 

To the FACS (Family And Consumer Science) teachers who love their students to the ends of the earth and are thrilled over seeing a picture of a peach dump cake or a button sewn on a shirt: Thank you! 

To the ag(riculture) teachers who host Zoom meetings where the chickens in the background are louder than the students: Thank you! 

To those junior high school counselors who host a weekly Zoom to just check on students, encourage them and give them a smile: Thank you!

I have one kid who has moved on from high school and another fearing what those years will bring. Any other year, the students would have gotten to tour the building and meet some teachers, but 2020 has proven different. It’s a year like no other, but I do know many high school teachers, and they all love what they do. To the high school teachers who looked beyond the troubled, depressed, loud-mouthed students and saw potential, thank you! To the ones who look past the neon pink hair, mullets or Mohawks to see individuals trying to find themselves: Thank you!

To the coaches who invested in students’ character as well as athletics and education, thank you. To those who genuinely love and care for students, thank you. I promise you that parents notice. We notice the teachers cheering our children on to greater things and encouraging them to find what they love and chase after their dreams.

Teacher Appreciation Week 2020 definitely looked different, but to all the teachers out there still teaching online, driving through neighborhoods on parade, passing out learning packets or school lunches, and sticking with their students during these crazy online AMI days of encouraging your students to stay strong and stay well yet in the back of their minds worrying about so many of their “babies”, thank you!

There are many heroes we’re seeing in this world today, but not one of them, not a doctor, not a nurse, not a scientist, not a governor, not even the President of the United States got where they are without a teacher. To each of you I shout THANK YOU!! Two small words that say oh so much!


A grateful mom

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