My favorite teacher is a man named Colin Hopper. He was an Abe Lincoln doppelganger who had a passion for history. He single-handedly turned my least favorite subject as a 10th grader into my future profession. He would encourage debate, treat teenagers like adults, and force me to think. I would leave his class so fired up sometimes the entire lunch conversation was about the debate in History class. Man, could that guy teach. He taught me to love learning. More importantly, he taught me to love thinking.
A close second for me was Ronald Sawin. I was a student who did not need much help to do well in school. At a time in my life when I did need help, Mr. Sawin was there. He gave of himself and his time with only thinking of me first. I remember to this day how that made me feel. I also thought about kids that needed help more than I typically did and realized just how important a job teaching was – and that this would be my future.
These two teachers opened a door for me which became my entire professional life. They opened a door to the greatest profession in the world. I mean that sincerely, I believe being an educator is the greatest profession in the world. But – it is also the most frustrating, challenging, and humbling profession as well.
I am so fortunate to work in Meridian CUSD 223 and alongside teachers who genuinely get it. Teachers who are pushing for student growth and progress on assessments, yet realize one test score can never define our kids. Teachers who donate their own money to ensure that our in-need families have a nice meal for Thanksgiving, but will not accept any public praise. Teachers who attend events and meetings with their children attached to their hip because they understand the importance of family, but care deeply about supporting their ‘other’ kids as well.
Our district has been the recipient of a lot of good news lately. We have been recognized at the national level for the excellence taking place in our schools. These awards and recognitions are not the work of one teacher or subset of teachers. This is the work of our community of educators joining together to lift up the students we serve.
Our schools are not perfect. Our teachers are not perfect. Our leadership is definitely not perfect. But, we are a darn good district. I am proud each of you and, more importantly, I appreciate each of you. Thank you for doing what you do on behalf of kids every day. Thank you for making your life’s work one of committing to make the lives of our students a little better each day.