We need you! We see you! I remember before becoming a teacher and always dreaming of nights off with my kids and summers and all of those “extras” I thought would be glamorous. Fast forward through years of a reality check. There are days when people say those same statements to me and I think in my head, “You are lucky I know Jesus because I want to punch you in the face!” Ha. Y'all that is real talk. There are no days that ended at 3:00 p.m. or even 4:00 p.m. and really it's a celebration to walk out of school before dark! And you can forget being about to see your children more. I just didn't know what I had to give up but also what I would gain.
My daughter graduated from high school last year and it was a major eye opening experience. After the first month of school, the staff had been given a warning about absences for the school year and basically “encouraged” not to miss any days. This always floored me because they give us ten days a year (five sick, five personal) but then don't want us to take them and if we do there is guilt attached. I remember walking into my principal's office and telling her that my daughter was graduating this year and I wasn't going to miss a thing. Not. One. Thing. I would use my ten days and I honestly didn't care what the consequence were. Since I became a teacher I had missed every first day of school. Almost all field trips and definitely every holiday party. If I were to go to my child's holiday party then who would be there for my student's celebration? So these moments in time that educators give up are a sacrifice that so many overlook. But, I know. I see you.
I wasn't there for so many experiences for my own children but I was there for my students and I realize now that this was also a gift. So many children do not have parents that can or want to attend things and I was that person for them. I showed up for them and loved them as my own. I not only taught them but I was the person they could depend on. I was there to celebrate their life everyday, and for some children, I may have been the only one.
The tides of education are changing because children are changing. A friend of mine said it best when discussing the hardships teachers are facing today. Parents are not parenting because they do not know how or unfortunately some just do not care. There are also parents stretched way too thin just trying to survive. It's not because they don't love their children, they are just doing the best they can. More families are faced with poverty. Children are being neglected and the lack of stability has turned many of them into something we don't recognize as small children anymore. They are in survival mode . . . fight or flight. Unfortunately, they have no idea how to handle the stress and routine of school when they have become accustomed to chaos, disorganization and unpredictable situations in their lives.
And then there is YOU, the faithful educator who is not equipped to deal with these major life altering events changing the child emotionally and physically. You went to school to learn how to teach these children academics but you never, in your wildest dreams, knew you would be responsible for so much more. You, my friend, are not just a teacher! You are a living example of good in the world. You model courtesy and manners. You show children how to have an actual conversation…the kind with spoken words! You teach character and integrity. You hold children accountable and teach them that the world will not treat them like a victim no matter their circumstance. They must be survivors. You love them and sometimes you are the only one to do so. You show up. Tired. Weary. Your love knows no conditions.
People do not choose to be in education for the money. They do not choose this life for free time. YOU choose this life because it's a calling like no other. God has placed you exactly where you need to be…not because it is easy but because YOU can survive the journey. You are not a quitter. You have more love in your heart than you can possibly imagine. Just when you think you are ready to throw in the towel, a student says something to you that reminds you why you are here. You are planting seeds that God will later grow. YOU. ARE. HOPE.
Statistically, 50% of new teachers leave the profession in the first three years. Isn't that insane? I believe this is because they are not preparing you for real life in the classroom. We have to change that. Educators are more than just teachers. You are changing our future one student at a time. Without educators we have no hope. Our future literally depends on the students growing up in your classroom right now. It's easy to throw in the towel and walk away but you were called for such a time as this.
Dear Teachers, We need YOU! If no one else has told you today, I appreciate you. I love your heart. I understand your sacrifice. I know you are tired and weary. I see you and I want to support you. You can't pour from an empty well…so we need to find a way fill it up!
We know God has called you to the ministry of education. He has called you, equipped you and he will sustain you. God wants you to know that YOU are ENOUGH.
We know your job is hard. Seek God’s hand in your life and the extraordinary opportunity you have to make a difference. Be the light in your school and community. Spark change in the ministry of education. Change the world.
Your life has so much purpose and you are so necessary in the ministry of education. It is not easy but it is worth it. The children are worth it. Our future is worth it. Fill your cup so you can overflow into the lives you touch everyday. We are in this together. Hold on, sweet educator, because we need you! You are the HOPE our world is needing.