It’s often been said, and rightfully so, that if you are free, thank a soldier, and if you can read, thank a teacher. To be sure, teachers have a very important role in our society and, to a very large degree, the past, present and future success of our nation has been and is entrusted to them. While I am a very strong believer in parents reading to their children in the home, especially when they are very young, they will ultimately be handed off to these wonderful people we call teachers. We should all remind teachers how very important they are and they should also remind themselves.
A while back a very thoughtful reader sent me something that really speaks to what I am saying. This piece begins, “The dinner guests were sitting around the table discussing life. One man, a CEO, decided to explain the problem with education. He argued, ‘What’s a kid going to learn from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher?’ He reminded the other dinner guests what they say about teachers: ‘Those who can, do…. and those who can’t, teach.’ To emphasize his point he said to another guest; ‘You’re a teacher, Bonnie. Be honest. What do you make?’”
“Bonnie, who had a reputation for honesty and frankness replied, ‘You want to know what I make? (She paused for a second, and then began…) Well, I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could. I make a C+ feel the Congressional Medal of Honor. I make kids sit through 40 minutes of class time and their parents can’t make them sit for five without an I-Pod, Game Cube or movie rental. You want to know what I make. (She paused again and looked at each and every person at the table.)
“I make kinds wonder. I make them question. I make them apologize and mean it. I make them have respect and take responsibility for their actions. I teach them to write and then I make them write. Keyboarding isn’t everything. I make them read, read, read. I make them show all their work in math. They use their God-given brain, not the man-made calculator. I make my students from other countries learn everything they need to know in English while preserving their unique cultural identity.’
“She continued, ‘I make my classroom a place where all my students feel safe. I make my students stand, placing their hand over their heart to say the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, One Nation Under God, because we live in the United States of America. I make them understand that if they use the gifts they were given, work hard, and follow their hearts, they can succeed in life.’ (Bonnie paused one last time and then continued.) ‘Then, when people try to judge me by what I make, with me knowing that money isn’t everything, I can hold my head up high and pay no attention, because they are ignorant. … You want to know what I make? I MAKE A DIFFERENCE, What do you make Mr. CEO?’ His jaw dropped, he went silent.”
Page 2 of 2 - Well, how about that? I would say that Bonnie set the record straight, wouldn’t you? As I read over this piece a couple of times, written by former teacher turned writer, Taylor Mali, I realized that this teacher “Bonnie” really epitomized what a real, dedicated, teacher should be. As an American, I am proud to say that we have millions of fine teachers just like her. While some teachers may have missed their calling, as we move forward we need the best and brightest people to become teachers, and teach our children, because they are truly our greatest resource.
Jim Davidson is a public speaker and syndicated columnist. You may contact him at 2 Bentley Drive, Conway, AR 72034. To begin a bookcase literacy project visit www.bookcaseforeverychild.com. You won’t go wrong helping a needy child.