Slimantics: I heart teachers


Slim Smith



Beginning Monday, thousands of students throughout Mississippi will return to the classroom for another school year. 


But even before the first bell rings, teachers have been showing up for their students, preparing their classrooms, buying supplies - often with their own money - putting together lesson plans, etc. 


Early Monday, before school started, Columbus High senior Kayla Carter got a call from her old Pre-K teacher at Stokes-Beard, Regina Wash, to wish her good luck for the new school year. Wash has called Kayla on the first day of school every year since she left her class, just to let her know she was thinking of her. 


When I told Columbus Municipal School District Superintendent Cherie Labat of the annual phone call from teacher to former student, she was pleased, but hardly surprised. 


Labat said there are constant examples of teachers going above and beyond for their students. 


It literally happens every day. 


Did I mention that I love teachers? 


I really can't think of any profession that compares to what teachers do, much of it unnoticed or under-appreciated. 


I think good teachers are about 75 percent empathy. Truth be told, they often care more about a student's success than the student himself. 


I suppose that is why my estimation of teachers has evolved. 


I find that my appreciation for teachers has increased exponentially since I quit having them. 


Once my evaluation of teachers was based on how much homework they assigned or how much I was allowed to get away with. 


Now, I have a different view. 


There can only be two explanations of why anyone would want to be a teacher: You have to be crazy or you have to be something of a saint. 


Think about what is required of a teacher. 


First, you have to get an education, perhaps a post-graduate degree in some cases. Then, for as long as you teach, you are constantly taking classes and courses. It never stops, really. 


For that, you'll be assured of a career of low pay and long hours. 


Your student's success will belong to the student, but you'll own a good portion of your student's failure. 


You will scramble for resources, especially in this state. 


If you teach at a public school, you'll be dismissed as a tool of a wasteful, lazy, irresponsible, failing "government school." You'll be told that people like you are part of the reason parents need "school choice." 


Although you are among the people most qualified to intelligently discuss the issues that surround education, your voice will be ignored and, in some cases, suppressed. You are not allowed to speak out. Shut-up and do your job, you are told. 


But here's what's most surprising. 


You do. 


Every day. 


Quietly, resiliently, creatively, you help shape the future of children who are not your own. 


What could be more remarkable than that? 


What could require so much with so little in return? 


Yeah, I love teachers. 


I can only imagine what our educational system would look like if everyone did.


Slim Smith is a columnist and feature writer for The Dispatch. His email address is [email protected]


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