Teachers: we appreciate you

Thursday, May 25, 2006

As the 2005-06 school year ends at school districts around the county, we think it's the perfect time to thank our area school teachers for another year of service. Hundreds of teachers are employed by Barry County's seven school districts, and during the school year, these teachers often spend more time with our children than we do.

As our two sons grow older, our appreciation for their teachers also grows. Just the other day, the boys pulled out their elementary yearbooks. We had fun flipping through the pages to find all their friends. While they were searching out their cronies, I found myself remembering various educational milestones they'd achieved each year under the loving tutelage of their teachers.

We still believe teaching is the noblest of professions. It is a career that has the power to change the world by shaping the minds and characters of our next generation's leaders. Scholars often make the connection between a vibrant economy and education spending. Research shows that states who have a history of making strong investments in their educational systems now enjoy thriving economies. We're sure the same theory holds true for smaller entities. Communities that support education will be rewarded time and time again for investments made in education. Strong school districts produce life-long learners who in turn become the work force of tomorrow.

Successful schools rely heavily on the creativity, energy and dedication of their faculty members who in turn need the support of parents and the community at large. Each year, it seems as if teachers take on more and more responsibilities that once were strictly a parent's domain. We have before-school care, after-school care, in-school counseling and at-risk programs. A favorite teacher at school could easily be the only light in a troubled teen's dark world or the one person who tells a neglected child "You are special," "You can do it," "You are loved." These days our teachers are called to invest more and more of themselves into their careers and into their students' lives. It's never an easy job, but one that is sure to reap eternal rewards.

When it comes to a community's most precious resources, we'd still have to place our children first, but it would be our teachers who we'd list as a close second. Here in Barry County we're particularly blessed to have an exceptionally caring and talented bunch of teachers guiding our young people. We've always said if you want to witness what's best about our community visit one of our local schools.