As many in the audience know, Teacher Appreciation Day is celebrated May 8th this year. I ask the Board and the Administration to show their appreciation for our teachers, not only on May 8th but throughout the year. This is especially important this year, I feel, because not only have there been decisions impacting teachers being made at the state level but also at our district level. I have heard from many staff members of our district who feel demoralized and disenfranchised. This atmosphere cannot continue without resulting in effects on our students whether they are intended or not.
In his famous 1963 speech at the Berlin Wall, John F. Kennedy stated, “Our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in education. The human mind is our fundamental resource.” Our teachers are our district’s fundamental resource. They have thousands of hours of training, from universities, from professional development, and from being in the classroom. We, as a district, chose them carefully from pools of hundreds of applicants for each job—I have served on hiring committees and the process is serious and also fascinating. We chose them because of their minds, their intellect, their body of knowledge and their ability to think—in fact, we chose our teachers because we know they are our most important, fundamental resource. We need to treat them and appreciate them as the professionals they are. They are the ones implementing ideas, plans and programs every day. They know what works with their own students, who vary between schools and even between classrooms in the same school. We have a diverse district and what works in one class may not be effective in another. Our teachers recognize this and have the skills to adapt their teaching to the needs of their classes. Top-down decision making that does not include input from teachers does not show appreciation, or trust for these fundamental resources of our district. Please involve our teachers in the decisions that affect them and our students. Please, members of the Board of Education, and members of the administrative team, I implore you to show your appreciation for our teachers by involving them in any decision that affects their futures and our students’ futures.
I will leave you with this quote from Carl Jung, “One looks back with appreciation to the brilliant teachers, but with gratitude to those who touched our human feelings. The curriculum is so much necessary raw material, but warmth is the vital element for the growing plant and for the soul of the child.”