By Jennifer Richardson
I served as a teacher, and my husband served as a teacher and has now been an administrator for many years. In our time in the field of education we have had occasion to know many educators. It has always been a privilege to meet someone who has a genuine heart for students; my husband and I like to look at each other and say, “that one is on the team.”
It is not hard to spot the team members who have given their lives to the mission of transferring a body of knowledge into a learner, but we might be surprised to know that educators have many titles. Who are our team members?
We are the classroom aids who never give up on the student who must work harder to reach their goals. We are the men and women who prepare and serve the food that faithfully appears each day to sustain the bodies that would be unable to focus without nutrition.
We are the custodians who keep the school environment clean and orderly, and offer a daily example of hard work and honest accomplishment. We are the people who drive buses and safely transport a community’s most precious cargo, its youngest citizens.
We are the detail managers that welcome visitors, attend to emerging issues, keep complex systems of data in check, maintain vital technology, assess medical, social, and academic needs, handle breathtaking amounts of paperwork, and generally keep the environment user friendly for everyone else.
We are the wise coaches who demonstrate that the playing field is an extension of the classroom, and offer lessons about teamwork, decency, sportsmanship, and pushing oneself to the limit for excellence.
We are the volunteers who fill in the gaps and spread ourselves thin because we see needs that remain even after many resources have been exhausted. We attend field trips, plan events, and provide classroom supplies. We are the parents and family members that teach the connection between responsibility and privilege, and action and consequence, and behavior and respect.
We are the administrators that quietly put in countless hours behind the scenes to lead and manage the matters of the mission, while projecting a strong, positive vision for achievement. We are the community members who step forward to meet challenges head on, to make the tough calls, to listen and then direct, and set policy that will offer the greatest possible good.
We are the teachers who offer an academic foundation to learners of every skill level across the spectrum, as we miraculously work to bring the shy one out of themselves, and the strong one to a goal that is worth their effort, and the quiet one to communication, the harsh one to empathy for others, the isolated one to human connection, and the hurting one to a place of recovery.
We are the caring community members who attend games, contests, fundraisers, concerts, shows, parades, and graduations. We are an example of loyalty, spirit, and compassion, and we are proud of determination and effort. We are the generous donors that help fund the amazing work being done because we know it will change lives for generations to come.
We are the ones that students show up for, we look people right in the eyes. Our expression says you are important to me, whether you struggle or excel. Regardless of yesterday’s outcomes, you have a new chance for success today. We all work together to feed the mind, the heart, the soul, and the body. We are the ones who are filled with pride or overcome with emotion when we see a former student living a life that says, I made it, your support changed my life for good.
Collectively, we are all the team.
All that we do is accomplished with the understanding that our success means we will no longer be needed by those we have so earnestly served. Our greatest hopes are to see students soar forward, but also to cherish the memories along the path to a meaningful life.
Everyone has a role in the success of the educational team. A grateful thank you to all who step up and make a contribution and live the ideal that together everyone achieves more.