Teacher Appreciation

Teacher Appreciation
Posted on 05/09/2018

May 6-12 is Teacher Appreciation Week. It is a time to celebrate those caring adults who dedicate their lives to supporting and educating students in hopes of having a lasting positive impact on future generations. I consider it a privilege to have been a teacher and to continue to work with teachers. The impact that teachers have had on my life and the impact that teachers continue to have on the lives of students is beyond description. Most adults can point to at least one teacher who had a positive impact on their life; someone who made learning fun, someone who pushed you to do more than you thought possible, or someone who was there with a smile and a kind word when you most needed it.

I would like to share just a little bit of data about teachers, that I came across as I was preparing to write this article. The following information is from the National Center for Educational Statistics website. There are approximately 3.6 million K-12 teachers in the United States, in both public and private schools, serving just less than 50 million students. More than 75% of teachers are female, 44% are less than forty years old and 56% of teachers have an advanced degree (Masters level or higher). Inflation-adjusted salaries for teachers are about 1% lower than they were twenty-five years ago, with a national average around $58,000 (average salaries in Missouri are considerably less than the national average). The average elementary teacher has a class size of just over 21 students and the average secondary teacher has a class size of just under 27 students. It is estimated that a teacher affects approximately 3000 students during his or her career.

There have been a number of recent stories making national headlines about teachers demanding better compensation in states like Kentucky, Oklahoma and Arizona. While it is true that most people would like to be paid more, I believe this movement is mostly about respect. Teachers want to feel like they are contributing to the betterment of their communities, their state and their nation and that society holds them in high regard for their work. The profession has changed over the years, putting more and more demands on teachers to serve a host of needs that are often beyond their training and beyond their control. Tight state budgets have put the squeeze on schools without the local resources to provide additional funding. In Missouri, we have been fortunate to receive consistent state funding levels without much in the way of cuts and yet we continue to see districts asking their local tax base for higher levies to try to keep up with the demands of the profession and the ability to hire the best available teachers to work in the district.

Rather than ask for more tax revenue, I would simply request that we take a moment out of our busy lives to thank a teacher for all the hard work and dedications that he or she has given in the cause of ensuring that past, present and future generations are educated, cared for and prepared to be productive citizens. Take a moment to write a note to a teacher who made a difference in your life or who made a difference in your child’s life. Tell that teacher that you appreciate what they did for you. It will make all the difference in the world to those whose calling was to serve children for the betterment of society. Thank you and Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!