I want to say THANK YOU to all of our teachers, administrators, and support staff working so diligently in our schools all across the country to make a difference. The work you do is admirable. We expect a lot from you—much more than an education for our children—we expect you to wear so many hats that I dare not even try to mention them. In all of the ways you succeed at meeting our expectations, thank you!
The teaching profession has individuals who excel in their field; it also has individuals who lack the skills necessary to be effective as well as those who are simply content with mediocrity. It is the same in any other profession. The sad reality in education is that we often times focus our attention on the poor performers and penalize the competent individuals in the process. As we move our educational structures to focus more and more on standardized assessments to evaluate the effectiveness of teachers, we lose much of the creativity, sensitivity, and compassion that need to be present between teacher and student to create an environment conducive to learning. Our fixation on standardized testing leads us down a path where we can over-emphasize performance versus true learning. Adequate assessments are important to make sure we are pursuing academic excellence, but a teacher building a bond with the students is important to be sure we are pursuing Christian excellence.
Let me focus attention on Catholic school teachers for a moment. You have many unique challenges in your chosen profession. First of all, it is no secret that you are frequently underpaid. There are some locales where Catholic school teachers make only 50% of what their public school counterparts are making. That is a sacrifice you have chosen to make because you look at your profession as a ministry. Thank you for your commitment and sacrifice.
Catholic school teachers frequently are called upon to go above and beyond the call of duty in their parish as well. They are expected to be seen at parish events, the sporting events of their students, fundraisers, and the list goes on and on. These sacrifices of time are made because of the sense of commitment and the sense of family that is present in so many of our Catholic school teachers. Thank you for your presence at these events.
Thank you for all of the work during the year grading papers, preparing lesson plans, staying in touch with parents, and creating a classroom environment with your decorations that says, “Welcome! Glad you are here!” The work you do behind the scenes is appreciated, and it is unfortunate that most of you don’t hear the words thank you often enough.
The one item that astounds me is when I hear people say, “Teachers only work nine months out of the year.” So teachers, as you prepare to wrap up the current academic year and embark on your three month vacation, we won’t watch as you pursue professional development coursework over the summer, or as you work creating new lesson plans, designing your upcoming year’s bulletin boards, writing welcome postcards to your incoming students, and on and on. We know you think all of that is fun and that is how you choose to spend your “vacation”. (Yes, that is being said tongue in cheek.)
Although the field of education has become a political football at the national and state levels in many regards (and at the local level in some cases), I want to take a moment to look beyond all of that and see the good that has taken place in our classrooms during this year. Teachers, thank you for the positive ways you have touched the lives of your students this year. Principals, thank you for your leadership. Support staff, thank you for all of the things you do that goes unnoticed and unappreciated. To all who support the local schools with your financial support and your volunteerism, thank you! Each of you is an important component to our pursuit of excellence on a daily basis.
Have a blessed summer!
"There is real magic in enthusiasm. It spells the difference between mediocrity and accomplishment."
~Norman Vincent Peale
"People who are unable to motivate themselves must be content with mediocrity, no matter how impressive their other talents."
"Jealousy is the tribute mediocrity pays to genius."
~Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen
"It's a sign of mediocrity when you demonstrate gratitude with moderation."