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From your child's teacher...

As a teacher in Mill Creek, I've taught many of your children over the years,
and I'll teach many more in the years to come. Writing is my way of working
through tough issues. Below are my thoughts on the events of Dec. 14. I hope
they help you understand the heart of a teacher...

Teachers. "Summers off. Going on strike at the drop of a hat. Those who
can't, teach. Glorified daycare." We've heard those negative statements over
and over for years. What we don't often hear is: hero. I would love for you
to look into the heart of your child's teacher to see what makes a true
educator.

At the core is someone who knows he can't do it alone. Every morning for the
past 17 years, I have prayed on my way to work; I ask specifically for
wisdom, patience, love, and strength. Teachers rely on faith, parents,
colleagues, and constant research into best practices and the latest medical
advice regarding children. We work as a team to pull out of kids what they
never dreamed they could accomplish.

Every waking moment (and sometimes as we sleep) we think about, worry about,
and plan next steps for your children. In a classroom of 30 students, we need
to be hyper-aware of every sound, movement, and emotion -- we're "on" every
second of the day. And because each child is treading through life on a
different path, we must deal with each student and each situation
differently, according to the needs of that child.

At the heart of it all, though, is our oath. This is not a contract that we
signed with pen and paper. It is a bond we made with ourselves, our students,
and you -- their parents. At the core of your child's teacher, etched in
granite, are the words "protect them at all costs." Every day as teachers
enter their classrooms all across this great country of ours, teachers
understand their students are more important than they are. Teachers
understand and accept the responsibility of caring for your children; and
teachers, even though it is extremely rare, are ready to step in to give
their own lives to save children. We saw this in Connecticut. We heard one
teacher say that as her students were huddled in a corner she told them that
she loved them. She wanted those to be the last words they heard if they
weren't going to make it. She wanted to drown out the sounds of gunfire with
a reassuring voice of love. We heard about the custodian who ran up and down
hallways giving warning so that teachers could lock doors and hide kids. And
as more details come out, I'm quite certain that we will hear of the heroic
last moments of the teachers and administrators who gave their lives for the
children.

I don't write this seeking praise. I write to reflect and deal with this
tragedy in my own way. Teachers don't often talk of their deep allegiance to
their students, but quietly, in each heart, teachers willingly pledge daily
to protect the children they serve. Teachers serve their communities because
of something inside of each one. There's a heart beating proud and strong --
a heart that earnestly desires for every child to live a long life, achieving
every goal and aspiration she or he can dream. Hold your child tightly, and
pray for your child's teacher.

Supporting and Respecting our Teachers

Having read Bob Cook’s personal account as an educator, it prompted me to write. He is correct that society only hears the constant negative remarks directed towards our educators. Every teacher cannot be “teacher of the year”. Every engineer cannot be “engineer of the year”. Every doctor cannot be “doctor of the year”. You get the drift.

Yet, who doesn’t know or have a teacher, who has inspired you, your child, or your grandchild? Was that teacher, “teacher of the year”? So many excellent educators never receive the recognition they so deserve. There are few professions that have a greater impact on society and the future-at-large than a teacher. When most young people are asked what they want to be when they grow up, many respond, “a teacher”. Teachers become our children’s heroes and role models for a lifetime.

As a grandparent, who has been a volunteer art docent these past 5 years, my perspective comes from experience of being in the classroom. They are professional, caring, and committed to his/her students. The students are engaged, respectful, excited to demonstrate their new found abilities.

Volunteers are a welcomed component of the educational experience: you could be a reading aide or math aide or art docent or a “lunch buddy”. Go there with an open heart and mind. Reach out and enrich the life of a child and your own life as well.

Help drown out these nay-sayers. Be a part of the solution. We expect teachers to support and respect their students. It is time that we as a society give our teachers that same support and respect.

Glenda Tecklenburg
Mill Creek, WA

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