It is not always a profession which earns prestige or accolades. They do not walk red carpets often or sign autographs after class. They don’t take their private helicopters to press briefings, get scheduled for appearances regularly on late night television, or get chased by the paparazzi while going to the corner stop late at night for a snack. Teachers, particularly in South Dakota, will never make it to the Forbes list of the top 400 billionaires.
But it is often said that teachers affect eternity. Take a look back and think on the teachers you had growing up. Maybe there was a kindergarten teacher who instilled a love of learning in you, a teacher who made you question “why” every time you saw something new at work. Maybe a second grade teacher encouraged your writing to an extent that it affected your eventual career choice. The fifth grade teacher from whom your work ethic and drive to complete a project derived. The middle school teacher who taught you a love for poetry and at the same time, an appreciation for spontaneity and seizing the day. The band instructor who worked tirelessly to help you prepare for, and achieve a superior in, a contest. The high school teacher who met with you before school every day that second semester to help you understand geometry. The college professor whose insight and expertise you still draw upon years after completing her courses.
Teachers hold a special, albeit sometimes unappreciated, place in society. They commit their lives to the education of the next generations of students, passing on knowledge, self-awareness and wisdom. None of us would be who we are today without the teachers in our lives. As the bumper sticker says, “If you can read this, thank a teacher.”
As college students are exploring the career field, it is natural to question their earliest impulses of becoming a teacher. A largely thankless job, with long hours? Which doesn’t pay as well as other professions? In the education field, which the governor and legislature, of South Dakota at least, seem to value very little? Sure – sign me up!
A new campaign, however, is urging students to look past these (hopefully) temporary economic disadvantages of choosing teaching as a career and look to the more meaningful, powerful benefits of the profession. The Network for Excellence in Teaching (NEXT) is beginning new television ads which highlight the lasting impact teachers have on the future. A legacy, really, which while it may not make headlines, WILL make the leaders of tomorrow’s world.
Ask one of your former teachers how many times they are stopped in the grocery store by a former student. How many teachers get thank-you letters from former students for not giving up on them? How many teachers have been friended on Facebook by hoards of classes from the past? Teachers may not be rich and famous, but they have extensive fan clubs.
So, students: Take a look at the NEXT website. Think back on the teachers you’ve had or currently have. When I was in second grade, my heroes were famous basketball and football players. As an adult, one of my heroes is my second grade teacher, Mrs. Tschetter. How do you want to be remembered?