August 6, 2014 10:29:35 AM
Today is the first day of school in Starkville, Oktibbeha County and West Point. Students in Columbus and Lowndes County begin classes Thursday while some private schools will not begin classes until next week.
As we embark on this new school year, we encourage students, parents, teachers, staff and administrators to make the most of this opportunity. Education remains a very key component to a successful life.
We particularly want to acknowledge and encourage our teachers, who operate on the front lines of the battle against ignorance and all the ills it produces -- poverty, crime, hopelessness.
Much to our dismay, teachers are often a convenient target when students and schools fail. While we have no doubt the teaching profession contains its share of unmotivated, poorly prepared people, as all professions most certainly do, we stand by our conviction that the majority of our teachers are to be commended. As a group, our teachers are under compensated, under-appreciated and misunderstood.
To gain some insight into what teachers often face, we turn to one teacher who, for 30 years, has taught children in Mississippi, Louisiana and North Carolina. Her experiences in all three states share one common reality. She asked not to be identified because she is still a public school teacher.
"My biggest challenge is making students want to succeed -- help them find the desire to do well -- and not try to sleep, cut up, or throw the class into chaos. That's my No. 1 job every day. Getting behaviors into line is the toughest part of each class. The next toughest part is attentiveness to what I am instructing. These are two things I can change --on a good day.
"What I can't change is poor attendance, students who will not do their homework and a poor attitude toward being in the classroom -- all three of which must be home-grown."
It is likely that all teachers, to varying degrees can relate to this teacher's experiences.
There is hardly any parent who does not want their child to succeed in school. But for too many, it seems they want the outcome (an education) without the necessary commitment to the process that enables the child to reach that goal.
A child whose parents insist their children commit daily to that goal by making sure their child is in class every day, prepared and ready to learn, and who will hold their child accountable for his or her behavior, has every chance to attain a well-rounded education that can lead to a promising future.
The best way we can support teachers is to make sure this happens. If you are a parent, your role in the education of your children is not a passive one. Get involved.
Our teachers are a huge factor is the success of the generation of students who are returning to the classroom.
Yet, they are not the only factor, and not even the most important factor. They were never intended to be.
We leave our teacher with the last word:
"Everything about education starts at home," she says, "and it is silly to say it does not."
1. Ask Rufus: The blues heritage of the Black Prairie LOCAL COLUMNS
2. Leonard Pitts: 'Hillbilly Elegy': a portrait of America's unseen NATIONAL COLUMNS
3. Bill Crawford: Mississippi needs every federal dollar it can get NATIONAL COLUMNS
4. Roses and thorns 8/28/16 ROSES & THORNS
5. Patrick Buchanan: Lots of smoke here, Hillary NATIONAL COLUMNS