It may not feel like it with all the daily stressors of school reform, assessments, budget shortfalls, public misunderstanding of educators, and so on, but truly, teachers, you are a gift to society. Please don’t forget that.
Last week at mass I heard a very encouraging and uplifting sermon from our talented Parish Life Director, Sister Linda Hogan. Sister Linda began with a simple line, “If you want to be happy, help someone.” She then went on to read scripture including one from Isaiah: If you share your bread with the hungry, shelter the oppressed and the homeless; clothe the naked when you see them, and do not turn your back on your own…then your light shall break forth like the dawn, and your wound shall quickly be healed. I watched the congregation’s response as the sermon continued with words from Matthew: You are the light of the world. Nothing yet. Then sister brought it all home by telling us that we are the light of the world. People began smiling as Sister Linda enthusiastically reminded us how we feed the hungry, clothe the naked, help victims of war and catastrophic events. We were all content as we reflected on how much of a difference we did make through our food drives, fund-raisers, community projects, and so on.
As Sister continued her talk, I reflected on my work as an educator, and that of my colleagues. It’s been a difficult five years. The Great Recession, 10-20% cuts in teaching positions, budget shortfalls, program cuts, and the big one, Race to the Top. For those that could, retirement was the solution. But for the majority, it was more of a “grin and bear it” situation. Through it all, I’m afraid teachers and the communities they serve have forgotten what a wonderful gift educators are to society. Teachers are parents’ best hope for their children. Teachers help shape the minds and hearts of children, setting a foundation that extends that which is developed at home. Teachers make all the difference, and we need to remind them how special they are to us.
Today is Valentines Day, a day to celebrate the love we have for special people in our lives. For all the teachers in my life, Happy Valentines Day. Thank you for being the light of the world.