Something struck me the other week as I was making my way from one meeting to the next. We often talk and express our opinions on the teachers we have when we are in school. In elementary school, we often view them as sometimes strict or even unfair because let’s face it other than our parents these are the first adults that have given us rules, structure, and schedules and expected us to participate in subject and course work we didn’t like or even feel there was a need for.
Even if we got “lucky” and had that teacher that was a little more flexible than the rest or the one that would give us extra free time or put on a film (yes I said film, I am just that old), we still didn’t appreciate what motivated these people to choose this profession. Sure, we had favourites, but mostly based on what we could get away with at that point in our lives.
As we hit high school what was top of mind was “fitting in”, checking out the students from other schools that we suddenly found ourselves sitting with and eating lunch with in the cafeteria with. Certainly, in grade nine we didn’t concern ourselves with why the teachers chose to be there. We were fueled by hormones, which created more interest in school dances, the star of the basketball team, and the international school trips.
A few years of high school and we would start to see our teachers as actual humans: people that wanted to help us, people that cared when something tragic in our family or at school happened. We began to treat them as people we could trust, we could turn to and people we might have even aspired to be like.
Students start to choose their career interests at that point and some chose to follow in the same path. Perhaps that English teacher inspired you with poetry that touched your soul or you had a Science teacher that sparked your curiosity. Your desire might not have been to teach, but instead to pursue acting because you were given the chance to have the lead in a play, even though you didn’t quite see you had the skill required. Yet someone, a teacher, saw the potential in you and gave you a chance.
However, it isn’t until later in life after college, university even marriage that we truly realize and understand why teachers choose to teach. Maybe the realization comes when, like me, you start to notice that those people who have run programs such as Fun With Books for the past twenty plus years are (now) for the most part all retired teachers. Or maybe you take a look around at the ladies sitting with you at a W.I.S.H. 1000 meeting, where you are donating your money as a group to worthwhile community causes and you take note that there are a number of retired teachers in the group. You also, might notice that a retired teacher also represents the very group you chose to donate to “Christmas for Kids” in Gananoque.
Then, by chance, like me, you discover the next person to cross your path is a lovely lady who dedicated some of her time, as a retired teacher of course, to help The Friends of Fulford Place in Brockville. This sequence of events caused me to pause and think back on all of the teachers in my past that have touched my life. I realize now with the wisdom that only comes with age, and life experience, that at the heart of a teacher is simply someone who just wants to make a difference in this world. Whether it is one child, one community member, one organization, or one stranger at a time they know that is what their heart drives them to do.
To all those teachers from my past, I thank you for taking the time to teach! For all those teachers that I still learn from, because learning is indeed a life long process, thank you!