Forever thankful for teachers

Published 10:21 am Tuesday, December 26, 2023

BY RANDY BOYD
President
University of Tennessee
Teaching – there is not a more noble calling. Teachers are so much more than instructors of math, science, history, English, reading and so forth. Teachers help us learn how to think critically, problem solve, work as an individual and in a team, build confidence and become mature, responsible people. In our formative years, we arguably spend more time with teachers than our own families.
Each May we set aside a week to celebrate National Teacher Appreciation Week, and one week just doesn’t seem long enough to show how grateful we are to educators in our great state and across the country. I would encourage all of us to think about how much our teachers have meant to us throughout our lives.
I am thankful for Mrs. Hall, my third-grade teacher who, with my mom’s permission, provided tough love and steady discipline so I would pay attention in class! My fifth-grade teacher, Mrs. Bragg, and my sixth-grade teacher, Mrs. Ballantine, both believed in me, gave me confidence and were intentional every day about making me feel special. I’m grateful to Mr. Rector, one of my high school teachers, who firmly believed in second chances (thank goodness!) and that students can do better than they could have ever imagined. Mrs. Jones compassionately and calmly walked me through my disappointment in myself when test scores didn’t meet my high expectations. And Mr. Kennedy, who bailed me and the “Political Involvement Group (PIG)” out of more than a few jams when we pushed the tolerance of administrators. He also encouraged us to question with curiosity, be bold and challenge conventional thinking.
Teachers do more than lecture about a subject. While we will hopefully remember the reading, writing and arithmetic taught in elementary, middle, high school and universities, we will most certainly remember how a teacher made us feel along the way. I can clearly recall all those special feelings my teachers provided, and am forever thankful because they helped form the better parts of who I am. I am betting that if you reflect on your experience, you will conclude your teachers provided the same to you.

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