What do Jimmy Fallon and I have in common today? We are thanking teachers! It’s National Teacher Appreciation Week and today, Tuesday, is specifically Teacher Appreciation Day. There are the token few places like Chick-Fil-A, Chipotle, and Cane’s that put out some free food for the occasion, but most simply go about their business.
Teaching is an underrated profession. I’ve heard all the comments – like “you get summers off” and “those who can’t do, teach.” Yeah, yeah, yeah. I would tell you that only those that truly care decide to teach. It sure isn’t for the money, the fame, the frequent bathroom breaks, and the clean-cut, rockstar students that fill your classroom every hour.
As a teacher, I remember a time at the beginning of my career when the clock in my classroom didn’t work (shocking). My students chipped in and for Christmas, they bought me a new one. I still have it. It’s nothing special. It was nothing expensive, but it was thoughtful. Every time I look at it, I think about that set of kids now in their 30’s. The craziest part is that those middle schoolers grow up. I get the privilege of saying one of my students is a principal in the district I taught in. One is working on Space X. One is an advocate for autism. Many of them have spouses, kids, and jobs I am impressed by.
However, I must admit the greatest teacher appreciation day I ever had was the day I left. My LF family gave me a send-off I will never forget. I was blessed to work with amazing people, but I have to say, it is sad that, for most, the day you leave is the day you hear the best words.
When I think about education, I get pretty feisty and revved up. Until you’ve spent a day in a classroom, you can’t know the job of a teacher, and one day is just a glimpse. But I think of my teachers growing up, and I was so lucky. I’m friends with a few now as a grown adult, and even the ones I don’t have contact with now, still taught me skills I use every day. I can name every single one of them. Some of you probably can, too.
I was super happy to see that 2 Riverside teachers were awarded the Charles A. Lakin Award for Education this week. Amanda Brandon, the 5-12 band teacher, and Brock Johnson, the elementary PE and computers teacher were awarded $10,000 each with $2500 going to their school districts. Charles and his wife were from Emerson and believed in the power of a teacher. He said he wouldn’t have been successful in the world without one of his teachers. Thank you, Charles A. Lakin, for understanding the world.
The world is a hard place. It’s not for the weak or the awkward or the nerds until they find education, and it shows them the world is theirs if they see it with an enlightened perspective. School may not be for everyone, but teachers are. Every day, thousands of teachers go to work. They parent. They teach. They lead by example. They wipe tears. They answer the hard questions. They steer kids. They goal-set. They handle bathroom issues. They provide support. They give love. They listen. They do their job.
On my hardest days as a parent, I think about a teacher with 25 of mine in a room, and I guarantee you every teacher my child has will be given gift cards, alcohol, or the thing of their liking. Especially the middle school teachers and high school teachers of which she will have many, simply because it’s the right thing to do.
The other day I asked my teacher friends on Facebook about the best gifts they were ever given. Not one told me of luxury items, but they did tell me about handmade pencil holders, scarves, and plants. All were about the thoughtful gift. So I ask that you take time to say “thank you” this week or the last week of school to every teacher your child sees and simply be “thoughtful” in it, or send a note to one who made their mark on your life.
Let me do my disclaimer and say I am sure I forgot someone, but I haven’t had a chance to look yet! Oops.
Thank you, Mrs. Von Weihe, for working with me when I was shy, quiet, and not reading a lot yet.
Thank you, Mrs. Young, for pulling my teeth when I was too chicken.
Thank you, Mrs. Bjustrom, for letting me teach the class how to write in cursive.
Thank you, Mrs. Schmidt, for teaching me my multiplication tables.
Thank you, Mrs. Hummel, for teaching me not to bite my fingernails and that life isn’t fair. You have to help the struggling ones even when they don’t deserve it.
Thank you, Mrs. Clark, for never taking things as seriously as I did.
Thank you, Mrs. Merle, for teaching me all I could possibly ever need to know about medieval times and to never take the lord’s name in vain.
Thank you, Mr. Clark, for teaching me to do foil art and how to knit.
Thank you, Mrs. Kunze, for loving your library and expecting us to follow rules.
Thank you, Mr. Vesley, for teaching me to drive, even if I backed up better than I went forward.
Thank you, Mrs. White, for loving your job and offering hands-on methods. You still don’t look a day over 50!
Thank you, Mrs. Smith, for being passionate about saying “angel” correctly and for letting us sing the “It Starts with an A…Aardvark” song. I can still sing it!
Thank you, Mrs. Peterson, for teaching me journalism and how much fun you can have as a teacher.
Thank you, Mrs. Thompson, for my French lessons one summer and knowing everything is better with food.
Thank you, Mr. Miller, for helping me to understand the zero is important in some math.
Thank you, Mr. Hynek, for helping me see that a good teacher needs to be watching everything closely.
Thank you, Mr. Hembry for forcing me into golf. It was a great decision.
Thank you, Mr. Strickland, for teaching me that a student will always work hard for a teacher who expects them to work hard (I used that a lot in my teaching career), and maybe that stuff about the World Wars, too. J
Thank you, Mrs. Grosvenor, for teaching me about the psychology of other people and that a halfway-smart man is not enough, even if his jeans are long enough. I’m glad we see things more similarly these days.
Thank you, Mrs. Casey, for giving me freedom even when you knew I’d take advantage of it because I would still get the work done.
Thank you, Mr. Thompson (sorry, I can’t do it). Thank you, Marv, for showing me that you don’t have to be athletic to like PE and to play hard.
Thank you, Mrs. McCowen, for teaching me letters can be numbers so that I can still do an equation.
Thank you, Ms. Stamper, for making me stick it out through proofs, oh, and for becoming my sister-in-law. Lol
Thank you, Mr. Ernst, for helping me realize that sometimes you have to stand up for the underdog, even when they won’t be an underdog in the right circumstances.
Thank you, Mr. Allen, for teaching me to type. I literally use that skill Every. Single. Day.
Thank you, Mr. Harris for teaching me the difference between stalactites and stalagmites, to tuck and roll when I got off the bus, and that there are advantages to coming from a long-line of overachievers.
Thank you, Mr. Sick, for letting us do collaborative learning. And yes, I know you’re sick every day of your life. J
And, finally, thank you, Mrs. Strickland, for embracing my love of the inappropriate and my passion for writing and for still choosing to be on my path to whatever lies ahead.
Happy Teacher Appreciation Week and Miss You LFers!
So US News & World Report got it right! Something every Iowan already knew, but at least the rest of the world is going to hear about it – Iowa is the best state to live in! To which, the smart ass in me wants to reply “Well, tell me something I didn’t know!” but the polite Iowan in me says, “They noticed it! Wow!”
So here we are. Yes, my friends, Iowa is officially ranked as the best state. For all of you who still think we grow potatoes or live in teepees — well, bless your heart. You are welcome to your incorrect information, but we really do live well.
The report judges on 8 categories: health care, education, economy, opportunity, infrastructure, crime & corrections, fiscal stability, and quality of life. I like to think we have those things in aces because if we need something or want something, we make it happen. That’s an Iowan for you. Sure, you might hear the farmers complaining in Casey’s but that doesn’t mean they won’t go right out the door and find a solution to the problem. I always say I was taught to take care of myself and everyone else around me. Some farm. Some preach. Some teach. Some fix computer glitches, but we are all doing our part. Although we are most notably known for butter cows and caucuses, I’m gonna say we are a lot more than that!
Our state boasts of a 40 college-educated population. Yeah, let that sink in. That’s impressive, my friends. And that’s counting a whole lot of really well-educated people that didn’t go to college because it really wasn’t an option when they were growing up, plus, at the very least, 92% have a high school diploma. We aren’t all corn fields and hogs, even though I must say I enjoy both! Sign me up for sweet corn and bacon anytime! They say everything’s better with bacon and we’ve got that by the truckload!
Really, there’s no point to this post other than to say I am damn proud to be from Iowa, born and raised. I am proud to say I am an Iowan. I am proud to say “Go USA!” I am proud to be “Midwestern nice.” I am proud to be from a place where you can stand under a tree in the middle of a gravel road, you can attend 3 major universities (plus a lot of quality colleges), you can find a food pantry and a library in addition to a bar even in the smallest town, you can watch bikers from all over the country bike safely across our state any given July, you can get a jaunty wave from a neighbor, you can get the best steak off of a backyard grill, and you can still read the Wall Street Journal off the internet on your porch while watching the sun set.
I am blessed to live in a place where back yards still exist, as do manners, friendships, work ethic, skies you can see, and a desire for quality education. Welcome to Iowa! Love it or get out! J
What else do you love about Iowa? Do you live somewhere else that’s fabulous you want to tell us about? Do you have a memory you want to share? Well, go right ahead.
I’ll say it. What happened in Connecticut scares the crap out of me, and it probably did you, too. No, I’m not a parent, although I parent every day as a teacher and if you asked me to raise your child, I would. Normally, I refrain from commenting about anything in teaching so I don’t get fired, but today, well, today I have something to say.
If we don’t want our kids to grow up worrying someone will kill them or be the one that kills others, please consider these things:
Please spend time with your kids. I know you have to work tons to pay for them, but if you quit trying to buy them Jordans and make them do chores to earn a couple of bucks, they will learn the value of a dollar and be proud when they pay their own way through college. Yes, I speak from experience and yes, I thought it sucked as a kid, but I can assure you I’ve killed no one, and I give my parents endless credit for making me who I am.
Secondly, please expect things of your children. Expect them to learn their times tables, to do chores around the house, to open doors for the elderly, and say please and thank you. If they don’t, don’t give them privileges like movies, skating, or their phones. You can even take things away like their favorite TV show, their xbox, or their favorite hoodie if you have to. Don’t give in because it’s easier for you, and don’t send them to their room if it holds a phone, a TV, an Xbox, a DVR, and a computer. That’s not punishment. That’s a reward and a chance to avoid communication with adults from whom they should be gaining knowledge and common sense.
Oh, and please don’t give in to your children because you want them to like you. They are not supposed to be your friend. They are your kid. You are supposed to be their parent. Sometimes, they won’t like you. That means you’re doing your job correctly, but if you kiss them goodnight or say you love them every day, they’ll get the message that you love them but you are one who makes the rules, not them. No kid should be deciding what the family eats, watches on TV, or spends the family money on unless it’s their freaking birthday and you allowed it.
Finally, you have the toughest job in the world. You have to raise a decent human being in a world that is not so decent. It is not a simple task, but if you do not want to be the one grieving or apologizing, it is your time to stand up and put kids first. If you don’t know how to do that, ask me or ask someone whose children seem to have it together. If you’re doing all these things already and are just sick to your stomach at the world your kids are seeing, then pass this on and hug your kids one more time tonight.
My prayers to all those who have to deal with situations such as this and for those that can help avoid more.
Let me go on record as saying I love Matt Damon. I’m not necessarily a love-proclaiming person. You can ask my husband as he always points out he announced his love long before I did. So I think it should be dually noted that when I declare my love, admiration, and blubbering non-intelligible awe for Matt it should mean something.
Sure, I’m saying this because he defended teachers, but it’s not like it wasn’t always true. How can you not love a man that makes your mouth water more than double fudge chocolate cheesecake? And how can you not love a man that wrote a phenomenal film in Good Will Hunting before he was old enough to rent a car? And how can you not love a man who works that hard at his job that his movies never stink up the $1 bin at Walmart? And how can you not love a man who defends his mommy? See, I dare you to find fault with that! And if you think you can, I’ll invite him to go all Jason Bourne on your ass.
Teaching is not for the weak-hearted. It is for the kind-hearted and that is why most teachers do not attempt to defend themselves. But I will say that very few people go into teaching without the right motives and even less stay in teaching without them. Every day, teachers teach, parent, counsel, nurse, befriend, nurture, and save. If you don’t believe me, go to the classrooms, sit your butt in the back, and watch the future be built.
To say more than that would only get me in trouble, but I will again say, “Matt Damon, you are currently a man among men on a pedestal the likes of which your Oscars shadow in comparison. You can be a spokesperson for education anytime!”