Thursday, June 22, 2017

Dear Teachers

Another school year is done.  Once again, goodbyes have been said, boxes have been packed, files have been closed and supplies have been put away.  Tonight, we turn off our preset alarms for 5:30 a.m. and begin our lives as the Summer versions of our selves.

Reflecting on this year, so much has changed and yet so much as stayed the same.  In my little corner of the world, another class of Firsties came in to my classroom as beginning readers and have left as confident book lovers.  Tasks once considered challenging are now "This is easy Mrs. S".  Those timid looks that were the hallmark of September have given way to big, albeit toothless, smiles.  They left me taller than when they arrived and ready to take on the next level of learning.  On a slightly larger scale, changes in administration gave way to more collaboration and respect.  Academic freedom to make some decisions on how to best instruct our students was returned to the teachers.  Colleagues looked a little less tired and harried.  We laughed a little more.  We allowed joy to return to our classrooms as we pulled out the glue and glitter a bit more often.

On a more global scale, however, changes happened that will surely make our jobs harder.  The latest in a string of unqualified Secretaries of Education is hell bent on destroying public education as part of a profit making scheme.  Protections for students with disabilities are being eroded as are protections for our students who are transgender or who are being discriminated against.  Legislation has again been pushed along at the state and federal levels that will, most assuredly, erode union protections.  Technology based education is being heralded as the new frontier of learning, thus replacing the human interaction that little people so desperately need in order to grow as the social creatures that we are meant to be.

As the school year wound down, we finished with the annual video yearbook.  Two important things stuck in my head as I watched the year go by on film.  First, the smiles on the children's faces as they posed wearing Halloween costumes, superhero garb, various theme day items and patriotic colors and accessories.  The joy was obvious.  The faces cycled through pumpkin carving, holiday decoration making, playing outside, interacting with peers, attending field trips, parading around the school, reading, reading and more reading.  This is what makes a school more than just a place to learn.  It makes a school a community of people who create common bonds and experiences.  It weaves us all together.  The other important item I noticed was what was behind the faces.  The backdrop of print rich and vibrant classrooms and learning spaces that teachers worked so hard to create.  Each and every adult used personal funds and time to engineer a home where children felt safe, secure and loved.  It is a testament to the devotion of the adults who educate our youth. 

I often wonder if the lawmakers who decide on funding, mandates and curriculum really understand that schools are much more than buildings that house children from 8:30-4 pm.  I also wonder if the taxpayers fully comprehend that the teachers that work in their public schools make these buildings more than brick and mortar and that the time off in the summer is actually time that we use to prepare for the next group of youngsters that will cross our thresholds after Labor Day.

So, my dear Teacher Friends, thank you for all you do.  Enjoy your well deserved time to rest and recharge.  You will need your strength as we move forward.  


H/T to Amy L. Vanderwater at the Poem Farm whose poem I chose to highlight this post.  Amy is a writer, writing teacher, poet, author and was the first person who encouraged me to find my voice in writing.  Amy, you are a teacher who inspired me.


  1. Kate was an outstanding teacher right from the start! She was a G/T teacher in her first years and she was excellent! My son will never forget her. I know Kate changes the lives of all the students she teaches. We need more advocates like her! Never give up Kate! -Sandra