Teacher Appreciation Week

Imagine for a moment that your job requires you to be in charge of around 20-25 human beings inside a 800 square foot room.  Those humans are in your direct care for close to six and a half hours of the day – you can’t leave them during that time.  Not only are you in charge of keeping them safe, you also need to make sure that each of them are doing the work they are supposed to be doing.  The only problem with that, however, is that you are also the one responsible for teaching them to do the task with which they are required to complete.  And, that was just a normal job description for a teacher pre-covid.  Post-covid has included all of those things along with a dash of teaching via Zoom while students were at home, making sure students complete missing assignments due to absences, and comforting students who experienced sickness and loss of family members.  Teaching is both the most difficult job in the American workforce as well as the job that seems to be under the most scrutiny.

When I was teaching in Jackson, my students would begin to arrive in my classroom at 6:40 AM where I would proceed to pass out breakfast to them.  I would then take a count of how many breakfasts were eaten and fill out a sheet requesting the number of breakfasts needed for the next morning.  I would then ask students to clean their area in order to start the process of learning which would begin around 7:30 – just as the sun was starting to fully shine during the winter months.  Most days, I wouldn’t leave school until 3:30 because I had to prepare for the next day or grade papers or do a number of other administrative tasks that I couldn’t do during the school day due to teaching or attending meetings during my planning period. 

There is so much more that is required of a teacher than simply delivering instruction to students.  Even if that were the only job responsibility of a teacher, it would still be the most important kind of work being done in the workforce.  Our teachers in Haywood County not only deliver high quality instruction on a daily basis, they also nurture children in the classroom environment, help students navigate emotional pain experienced outside and inside school, spend more time with students than their own children in some cases, and do their best to motivate students to develop a love of learning.

This week is National Teacher Appreciation Week.  In many ways, a single week carved out to specifically show appreciation for teachers seems underwhelming given the current social and political climate in Tennessee regarding public education.  However, we want our teachers in Haywood County to know how much we appreciate the important and necessary work that they do.  Beyond appreciating the work, we want them to know how much we appreciate them as people and the sacrifices they make that go above and beyond a seven hour school day.

In small communities like Brownsville, the school system is oftentimes the heart of the city.  If that analogy rings true in Haywood County, then teachers are the lifeblood.  Without our teachers showing up and caring for all of our students – from Anderson to Haywood High School – we wouldn’t have stories of success that continue to be told to this day.