The other day I left a short note of appreciation on a teacher’s desk to let her know that I saw her. She is generous and gracious with me (an educator outside of her school network that she openly shares her classroom space with for some of our programming) and everyone she comes into contact with. I’ve been watching her for almost a year and each time I visit the school (twice per week): she is incredible.
Someone needed to acknowledge what can only be described as: endless caring.
This caring young woman teaches 1st grade (which is one of the most challenging grades to teach from a benchmark perspective) and stays late almost everyday. Planning, organizing, making work packets, strategizing, decorating the classroom, and regrouping for the next day are just some of her evening tasks. When most of her students are already home eating dinner with their families, she’s still at school thinking about how when they return, she can help them grow and develop inside her classroom.
The look in her eyes when she came to thank me for leaving her a note of appreciation moved me to write this open letter to all teachers… who despite endless caring are no doubt feeling burned out.
At a time when most of us are sick and tired from the struggles of the past two years and the growing unknowns we face, you show up every day to lead future generations into becoming the leaders who will inherit new challenges.
Two years into a pandemic and you’ve been yo-yoed from classroom to virtual teaching and back again with little support in navigating a learning curve that has never been traversed. While the word unprecedented may be overused since the pandemic began, it undoubtedly describes the caliber of work you are bringing forth in the world today.
You are not only a light for your students each day, you are a buoy for all of our hopes. That is a lot of pressure that deserves recognition and compensation.
You work your full eight hour days plus most evenings and weekends, putting in business-building hours for the business of building our children and our future.
Thank you for making your faith a verb.
May this letter be a prayer that one day, should you have the patience to persevere—through the budget cuts, outdated curriculums and out of pocket expenses, through the thankless slog, small masked smiles and tender moments marked by messy hands— that we as a society may hold and pay you with the same esteem you clearly hold for your students.
Sending heartfelt blessings from the educational trenches,
Vita Pascone, M.A.
(Enjoy this appreciation mandala created by a 4th grade student.)