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An Open Letter to Teachers
Posted on May 27, 2015, by GAPMP
An open letter to Georgia’s teachers:
As a parent mentor in a medium sized school district in Northeast Georgia, I do not know every one of the 300 or so teachers in our system. Mostly, I know the special education teachers. I can say that I have a great deal of respect for teachers in general, though.
As a veteran mentor, after having been entrenched in the school system for over seven years, in some ways I feel like I do know at least some things about people who are called to be teachers. I know they have to be dedicated, caring and engaged to do their tough jobs well. I know that they want to be paid and get benefits, but that is not the only reason they do what they do. I know they do fundraising and spend a lot of their personal income to help the children in their class, to make up for materials and items they need or want to try. I know that I often see cars in the parking lots of our schools on weekends, early in the morning, late in the afternoon and, during the summer.
I have noticed you can almost always pick out a teacher when you meet someone in the grocery store, at the movies, in the doctor’s offices they have a special way of coming over and interacting with children. They have an easy way. They look in your child’s face. They are interested. They live their work even when they are off the clock.
So, waxing nostalgic, as I watch the children of the families I work with leave school behind for the summer, putting their IEPs on the shelf and looking forward to the promise of the next year, I have been thinking about teachers.
There are a lot of ways that teachers and parents share our children’s lives even though the two jobs, parent and teacher are so different. Recently my own middle schooler (who happens to be non-verbal,) was coming down with something. He is kind of medically fragile and unpredictable, but his self-contained class teacher has gotten to know him well enough… and, she’s a mom, and therefore uses her mom skills, for being able to tell when something is up. Her great communication skills, the relationship she has built with my son… makes his life better. I don’t have enough words to share what that means to us in a world where so many people push my son into the background because they don’t know how to draw the person inside him out.
If you think about it, we entrust our kids to the teachers in their schools for most of the day, five days a week with people that we didn’t choose, (like we do with a caregiver or childcare provider). We expect schools to educate our children, we also expect that they will keep our child safe, and, we hope that they will get to know the good things about our child that, especially for a child who has a visible or unseen disability… they will bring out their talents and abilities and help a child overcome, or at least cope with their challenges.
Teachers chose to do this work… but, again, we do not choose them. But for all of us…
It is all about the children.
At this time, however, we all are embarking on a little break from all that. It is important for all of us to play, explore, rest and restore.
Joey’s mom and White County Schools Parent Mentor