This letter was originally printed in The Greenville News.
We often hear people thanking the heroes in our society. Members of the military, police officers, firefighters and countless others are the obvious heroes in today’s age and deserve praise for their hard work and courage. However, one profession is far too often left out of that discussion: teachers.
A teacher never works just an eight-hour day, rarely has a free weekend and definitely works during the summer. In fact, many teachers have to work additional part-time jobs just to make ends meet. A teacher’s ultimate responsibility is to dedicate his or her life to benefit the leaders of the future.
Teachers are the foundation upon which the next generation learns how to read, understand history, think critically and problem solve. In my book, teachers are definitely heroic.
Our state and local governments could do a much better job of elevating the teaching profession. Teachers, just like other professionals, should be rewarded for doing a good job.
Yes, teachers need raises — but those raises should be tied to performance. Teachers new to the profession should be given incentives for great teaching; teaching that proves he or she is moving students toward success. This would provide a catalyst to constantly improve and work to bring better instruction into the classroom. Teachers further in their career should be motivated to continue professional development programs and bring fresh approaches to their lessons.
Nothing can impact a child’s academic achievement like a great teacher. We often need to be reminded that studies show that three consecutive great teachers can completely change a child’s trajectory in life. Let’s encourage our leaders to elevate the teaching profession and reward the best and brightest.