“You have a big heart, you’re clever, and I know you’re a good boy.” These were the words of Chen Miller, a special needs teacher in Israel, when she spoke them to a child who was convinced by others that he was ‘disturbed.’ The child cursed, spat, and screamed at her daily for weeks, but she would repeat the exact same words. One day, she came into class and found the child had moved his chair next to hers, and he began to blossom and learn. “There is no child that can’t; only a child that can. Remember always that education is the forming of impressions on souls.”
One of the most important professions in the world is teaching. Teachers, as a whole, are under-appreciated and underpaid for what they do. When I first started working in the schools some eight years ago, I gained a whole new respect and admiration for teachers. For about seven hours or more a day, parents and caretakers entrust their children to these wonderful individuals so that they can impart knowledge and wisdom to these precious minds.
In spite of what some people think, teaching is not just an eight to three job, nor do teachers get all these ‘vacation’ days. Most teachers come in early, leave late, have papers to grade in the evenings and on weekends, plan their day on their own time, and many of their vacation days are spent planning, taking classes, and attending meetings. Many spend their own money for classroom supplies, and sometimes to even buy much needed personal items for their students.
What does this have to do with spirituality? It’s called showing kindness and compassion to our teachers and the school administrators. They deal with a lot to try to give our children the best education possible and to do their best to keep our children safe.
If you can, write a note of appreciation and let teachers know that you are grateful for what they are doing for your children. Maybe you can even help buy supplies for their classrooms. But most of all, let’s not take our teachers and education opportunities for granted. At any time, it could all be taken away. There are many children in the U.S. and the world who don’t have access to schools and are desperate to learn. There are also those who risk their lives to go to school, getting beat up and maybe even losing their lives just because they want an education.
Our children ARE our future and if we don’t take care of them now and into the future, then what kind of world are we leaving them? Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” And Martin Luther King, Jr. stated, “The function of education is to teach one to think intensively and to think critically. Intelligence plus character - that is the goal of true education.”
Published in the Cookeville Herald Citizen newspaper April 14, 2017.