Letter to the Editor

Thoughts with teachers as they head back to school

Friday, August 3, 2012

To the Editor:

It's again that time of year when parents are buying school supplies and maybe new shoes for their children, while their children are anticipating what the next year in school will bring.

As a retired elementary teacher, I can tell you there are also lots of things to be done at the schools before those students cross the thresholds of their new classrooms.

Elementary teachers are not only thinking of that first day of school, but also decorating the display cases, filling bulletin boards with useful information, preparing name tags for their students' desks, arranging the activities areas in their classroom, getting textbooks ready, and doing a hundred other little clerical activities. And then the first day arrives for them as well, and together -- students and their teacher -- begin a new year of learning together.

Every new classroom of students brings an ever-so-wide range of individual abilities, much of which is best addressed with a personalized approach to instruction. Unfortunately, those needs far outstrip the available resources. Teachers teach because they love imparting knowledge, they accept the challenge of bringing everyone to grade level and beyond, and they feel immense pleasure when their students show progress in learning.

Teaching is an important job -- the integrity and survival of our culture depends upon it.

I once had an engineer friend who constantly criticized public education and its teachers. When he retired, I encouraged him to apply for a position in a local high school in the community in which he lived. He got the job. He lasted one semester. I rarely heard criticism after that. He had no idea how difficult and challenging the tasks of teaching could be.

Please join me in wishing staff and teachers of all levels, all over the county, a pleasant and fulfilling new year of teaching.

Tell them you appreciate and support all they do for the children of our communities. Be active, and aware of what is going on in your child's classroom and, more broadly, in your school system.

Praise and encouragement is good not only for students, but for teachers too.

Linda Raines