Teacher Appreciation Day provides a wonderful opportunity to reflect and say “thank you” to those who make a difference in our lives.

Miss Stout was actually a very petite, frail woman who was physically challenged by the degenerative muscle disease that grew progressively worse with each year of her high school teaching career. When I had her for College Prep English my senior year, she relied on a wheelchair. But still, at the start of each class, she would somehow rise from that chair, while clinging to the desk for support, to command our attention. When she spoke, we listened.

Miss Stout had a brilliant mind, a sharp wit, and a keen intuition that surpassed her physical limitations. Despite her struggle to even hold a pen and write the words, her comments returned on our essays were concise, critical, and intuitive. She guided us beyond high school semantics to the college level. She made us strive to live up to her high expectations. She also got to know us personally and made sure we were not victims of the teenage drama swirling around us. She was the reason I became an English major in college. On this Teacher Appreciation Day I say “thank you” to Miss Stout for all she was and all that she did for me.

Teacher Appreciation DayJust like Miss Stout, teachers around the world are deserving of this special Teacher Appreciation Day simply because they chose this profession. We appreciate you, the teachers who chose to dedicate their careers to help students learn, respond to their needs, challenge them, and give them a start toward success. You, who quietly prepare for each day and work tirelessly to ensure your students’ success. Often you are criticized, rarely receive praise, and ask for no recognition.

But teachers stick with it, even when it isn’t easy to navigate all that is expected of you in today’s education climate. You still find time to teach while aligning lessons to standards, tracking student data, implementing the latest technology in the classroom, and reaching students of all learning abilities. You strive to keep inspiring your students while taking attendance, grading papers, emailing parents, going to meetings, and preparing lessons plans.

On this Teacher Appreciation Day I want to recognize every one of you who spends up to $1,000 each year from your own pocket for classroom supplies, but suffers from frozen salary levels at your schools; to the more than half of you who have covered the cost of field trips for students whose parents could not pay; and to those among the 65% of you who have paid for your students’ cafeteria lunches. You enhance the lives of our children, and we cannot thank you enough.

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