Tuesday, July 14, 2009

A Tribute to Parents

I am a teacher. I was born from the first moment that a question leaped from the mouth of a child. I have been many people in many places. I am Socrates, exciting the youth of Athens to discover new ideas through the use of questions. I am Anne Sullivan, tapping out the secrets of the universe into the outstretched hand of a blind girl named Helen Keller. I am Esop and Hanns Christian Anderson, revealing truth through countless stories. I am Marva Collins, fighting for every child’s right to an education.
The names of those who have practiced my profession ring like a hall of fame for humanity: Booker T. Washington, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Leo Besaglia, Moses, even Jesus. I have wept for joy at the weddings of former students, laughed with glee at the birth of their children and stood with head bowed in grief and confusion by graves dug too soon for bodies far too young to have died. Throughout the course of my day, I have been called upon to be actor, friend, nurse, doctor, coach, finder of lost articles, moneylender, taxi driver, psychologist, substitute parent, salesman, politician, and keeper of the faith.
I am a paradox. I speak loudest when I listen the most. My greatest gifts come when I am willing to appreciatively receive from my students. Material wealth is not one of my goals. But I am a full time treasure seeker in my quest for new opportunities for my students to use their talents, and in my constant search for those talents that sometimes lie buried in self defeat.
I am the most fortunate of all who labor. A doctor is aloud to usher life into the world in one magic moment. I am allowed to see that life reborn each day with new questions ideas and friendships. An architect knows how to build with care and knows that if he does, his structure may stand for centuries. A teacher knows that if he builds with love and truth, what he builds will last forever.
I am a warrior, daily doing battle against peer pressure, negativity, fear, conformity, ignorance, prodigies and apathy. But I have great allies. Intelligence, curiosity, individuality, creativity, parental support, faith, love and laughter. All of these things rush to my banner with indomitable support. And who do I have to thank for this wonderful life? I am so fortunate to experience but you the public, the parents. For you have done me the great honor to entrust me your greatest contribution to eternity, your own child. And so, I have a past that is rich in memories, I have a present that is challenging and adventurous, and fun because I am allowed to spend my days with the future. I am a teacher. And I thank God for it every day.
- John W. Schlatter