In just a few short days your quiet, tranquil lives will be overhauled into a world of chatter, giggling, and little faces galore. Back-to-school time is right around the corner.
The time is drawing near. The moment where we, the parents, lift our hands to yours, the teachers, and say, ”tag, you’re it!” Soon, you will watch as some parents’ tires screech into the parking lot, barely coming to a slow roll, while kids are all but kicked out of the passenger seat of the car: “Later, suckers!” Some parents will be high-fiving each other: “We made it, we survived summer!” Other parents, less jaded ones, will be standing at the door of the kindergarten class, fighting back tears (unsuccessfully) as they say goodbye to their baby for the first day.
You will soon be thrown into the grips of 2+2, sounding out C-A-T, breaking up playground disputes, and hearing all the secrets that should have stayed at home, but came bubbling out of a little one all- too-anxious to tell. You will be eyeball-deep in grading papers, trying to figure out some kid’s handwriting, explaining to a parent why Common Core math is a thing, and navigating the dreaded moments when a parent thinks that surely their sweet Billie would never have done what he’s been accused of: ”There’s just no way, not our boy, you must have that wrong!”
I am quite sure your last days of summer are currently filled with pinning ideas of a fun project or an awesome classroom decoration. I am sure you have thought about the kids that will fill your room: about their needs, about your hopes for them, and about your upcoming year.
I am also sure of this: while you have been preparing for them, I, as a parent, have been thinking of you. You have been prayed for without your knowledge. You have been thought of and considered before we even cross paths. You see, the magnitude of what you do is not something that is lost on me.
In a world that often feels thankless, please hear me say: thank you. In a world that often may feel like your efforts are not seen, please hear me say: I see you. I see you working 60+ hours a week. I see you staying up late after your family has long ago been tucked into their beds, so you can finish grading papers. I see you at the store, spending your own money, in order to have extra supplies for the kids that will be in need. I see you working two jobs to supplement a salary that should be much much higher. I will never understand a world where we pay people who entertain us more than we pay people to guide and educate our youth. I see you sweetly smile as someone says “Boy, I wish I had summers off!” and try not to roll your eyes because you know it isn’t that simple. I see you playing the part of not just teacher but also therapist, counselor, and confidant. I see you rooting for the kids around you. For my kids. For all kids.
I see you.
This will be my 10th “first day of school.” A decade of walking into a classroom, shaking a teacher’s hand, and saying, “Oh, you sweet soul, you are about to be taken for a ride!” And what I wish someone would have told me as I stood at the kindergarten door crying just 10 years ago is, there is no heart like that of a teacher. I wish someone would have told me that not only will you be teaching the ABC’s and 123’s, but you will also be wrapping your arms around my kids. Loving them. That you will get to know them for the fun, sassy, energetic punks they are. That you will see things in them that I may have over looked. That the bulk of their day will be spent under your watchful eye. That you will ignite passions in them for a multitude of things. How do you thank someone for that? How do you thank someone for giving of themselves tirelessly? For loving your kids, for teaching your kids … for shaping your kids and their futures? There are no words.
So, as you are busying yourself with stapling that elephant cut-out to the bulletin board; as you are arranging the seating chart for minimal distractions; as you are pulling out the stockpile of crayons stored around your house; as you are saying goodbye to your final days of the summer break … I hope you hear my voice, and a million like mine that say, this world is better because of people who chose a passion over a paycheck. People who chose this career because they believed in its importance. My vow to you is that I will walk alongside of you. That we will team up and make this a great year for you, my kids, and for me. That I will forever be in debt to the time and attention you have put into not just my child, but also into the other 25+ kids in your room.
Thank you, thank you, thank you. It takes a village. Thank you for being a part of mine.
A grateful parent