This is an open letter to the teachers of Bradley County.
You are appreciated! In a society where blame is given out freely while credit is withheld, it is important for you to know that we see your sacrifice and applaud your dedication.
Teachers are “upgraded” on an increasingly complicated and confusing system that seems to be unexplained even by those who installed the system. What would happen if other professions were held to your standard? Could the salesman make every sale? Could the lawyer win every single case before him? What about the medical profession? Are there any doctors with a 100-percent success rate?
How then should we judge teacher performance? Maybe by the look in a child’s eye when they are handed a new pair of shoes that the parent could not afford. Or maybe by the reaction of the little girl in the restaurant who turns to her little brother and says, “That’s my teacher. She’s kinda cool. She’ll be your teacher some day.” Or maybe simply by the pride of a former student who stops by the classroom to tell you that he just made the middle school baseball team. (And steals a hug from his favorite elementary school teacher.)
Or maybe we have to consider the unseen: that deep-down-in-the-gut feeling that you can make a difference, that passion for children that keeps you coming back year after year.
In a troubled world and sputtering economy, success is quantified only by the bottom line and ultimately numbers.
How about the number of lives you touch and improve each year? How about the number of reassuring smiles and arms around the shoulder of the child for whom school is the only safe place? How about the number of hours spent before and after school with the student who needs to be challenged to find his greatness?
These are the numbers that we should measure. These are the numbers that lead to success.
[Teachers], thank you for everything you do!
— Tom Rawlings