Educators deserve more appreciation than they get

Published 12:44 pm Tuesday, January 4, 2022

All of us have had to make adjustments to deal with the pandemic, but few have come close to facing the disruption and stress that educators have endured — virtual classes, on and off in-school classes, masks, and students infected with COVID.
Our teachers, and even cafeteria workers and school bus drivers, deserve widespread, full-throated appreciation and praise for their work on the front lines of the war against COVID-19.
For three consecutive years, educators and other school year workers have constantly had to adapt to new challenges presented by COVID-19. In the spring of 2020 teachers had to develop methods on the fly to teach to whole classrooms of students who weren’t actually in classrooms anymore.
With politicians and parents clamoring for the return of in-person learning, teachers — some of whom are older than 60 and at elevated risk from the virus — then had to deal with mask rules and resistance to mask rules.
This school year, which many teachers describe as the hardest yet, educators find their schools short of staff as colleagues leave the profession and jobs go unfilled in the tight post-pandemic labor market. Many of the teachers who have stayed have been asked to help in multiple classrooms or take on additional students to make up for staff vacancies as school districts compete to hire substitute teachers.
School bus drivers are in short supply as well. In some cases, coaches, assistant principals and other school personnel are driving buses.
We appreciate teachers now more than ever. Teaching during the COVID-19 pandemic has presented unimaginable challenges. From learning to provide quality instruction remotely, to socially distancing in a classroom setting, to wearing masks while teaching and managing a room full of young people while trying to keep everyone safe and healthy is not exactly what they trained for, but our teachers have pulled it off in inspiring ways.
When you think about it, teachers spend more time with our children than any other adults in their lives.
Each day, we trust teachers with our most valuable resources — our children.
They teach our boys and girls reading, writing and arithmetic, but they also teach them about playing well with others, self-esteem, the importance of goal setting, organizational skills, self-respect, respecting others and other important life lessons.
We also know that teachers historically are underpaid and under-respected, given the importance and difficulty of their jobs.
We know these highly trained, well-educated, credentialed professionals could find more lucrative careers but they choose to teach, making a lasting difference in the lives of our youths each day.
Teachers not only mold minds they shape lives.
They not only prepare children for tests on math or spelling but ready them for the tests they will face one day, each day, as adults.
All of us, as adults, can think back and fondly remember that special teacher who made a lasting difference.
Legislatures across the country grapple with school financing constantly, and teachers routinely use their own money to supplement supply budgets and to address other needs. Of course they shouldn’t have to, but their drive to serve their students compels them.
What other professionals, as a group, show such dedication as a practically embedded part of their jobs?
In legislative debates, in efforts to provide added support, in personal interactions with educators, we must keep in mind that our future is in their hands every day.
As our teachers and students go back to school after a holiday vacation, we say thank you to our educators, bus drivers, and other school personnel who work to make our schools not only places of learning, but a safe experience each day.

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