Many professions draw public attention like warm watermelon draws flies. Those who practice them are constantly in the news. If it isn’t the money they make, it’s the company they keep or the trends they set or the controversy they spawn. Their notoriety is somewhere between amazing and appalling.
There is one profession, however, that is neither notorious nor controversial. Although essential to our future as a nation, being inseparably linked to the home as few other professions are, it has been treated like a stepchild.
Those who make their living in this field press on against overwhelming odds. They live with criticism they usually don’t deserve. They invest extra hours for which they are never compensated. They maintain a standard of excellence regardless of resistance. They remain enthusiastic in spite of daily discouragements. They apply creativity and every motivational technique they can muster without applause or thanks from their recipients.
Fueled by hope, these brave men and women shape minds, stretch imaginations, challenge thinking, and model consistency. They have one major enemy they fight with tireless energy: ignorance.
Who are the relentless, courageous heroes I’m describing? By now you know. They are those who teach.
The tools of their trade may not seem that impressive—a piece of chalk, a book, an overhead projector, a homework assignment, a smile of encouragement, a nod of affirmation, a strong word of warning, a question to answer, a problem to solve. How powerful are those adept with such tools!
Teachers. Tough-minded, clear-thinking, ever-learning educators who gave me their time and their attention, who early on overlooked my immaturity, who saw raw material behind my boredom, overactivity, and mischievousness, who held my feet to the fire and dared me to grab the challenge, who had enough wisdom to drop the bait in just the right places to hook me for life.
So to all of you who teach, hats off. Yours is an invaluable profession, a calling sure and high and noble, a model we cannot live without if we expect to remain strong and free.
Don’t quit. If ever we needed you, we need you today.
Think about those who taught you. Thank God for them and the lifelong value of their investment in you.