May 4-8 is the designated “Teacher Appreciation Week,” and I hope you will take a little time to express appreciation to the educators who impact your lives or the lives of your children this week. Probably anyone who is reading this blog can name significant teachers in their lives, caring professionals who pushed and supported them during their school years. Teachers put a lot of themselves into their work, and their work becomes their identity much more than many other occupations. We are in an age when it has become commonplace to criticize public education, but I can tell you that Indianola CSD has incredible teachers throughout the whole district! Not only do they work very hard to constantly improve professional practice and content knowledge, but they also take very seriously their role as surrogate parents while students are under their supervision (The Latin phrase in loco parentis, or “in the place of parents,” is probably stamped indelibly on every aspiring teacher’s brain during teacher preparation.).

Teachers invest a lot of themselves in their classrooms and students. Anyone whose sole purpose is to make someone else better, smarter, or more effective is bound to make an impression on that person. Even though students don’t always appreciate being pushed or corrected at the time, inevitably they come to appreciate the personal investment that has been made in their lives. My dad taught English in my hometown for 36 years, and one of my treasured childhood memories is having former students approach him in our hometown. They always had good memories from class and laughs to share with my father. “Do you remember me?” is a question former students always seem to have, and amazingly, teachers usually do remember their students years later. I have enjoyed reconnecting with students from up to 25 years ago and more when they requested me on Facebook. A student-teacher bond can last a lifetime.

Teaching is a service job that people can feel good about every single day. Even though there can be a million little details and hassles any given day, teachers never have to search for meaning in their work. They know what they do is important. They see children grow up before their eyes. They celebrate the accomplishments of their students. I am very thankful for my years in the classroom and that I continue to get to serve a school that is committed to its students each day.

Sometime this week take a moment to write a note, send an email, make a call, or reach out in some way to teachers and other staff members who make a difference in students’ lives. They don’t do this work for a pat on the back, but they still deserve one and would appreciate one!