That's right - this is the week to remember to say thank you to the teachers (and principals, teacher aides, librarians, etc.) who take such good care of our kids every day. Part of the reason we live in the appallingly expensive area we do is because the schools can't be beat. I used to teach in a little town up in the Catskills where money was really tight. So tight that I had to buy a rug for my classroom because it wasn't in our budget (which then promptly got vomited on by a sick child, and had to be discarded). I think we used to get something like $125 every year to buy/replenish teaching supplies, classroom books, etc. Obviously, this doesn't go very far, and lots of my own money went towards things my classroom needed.
They don't seem to have that problem here; the classrooms are stocked with more books than you could imagine, dozens of different kinds of manipulatives, games, computers, you name it. It's like Disneyland. However, go to an area which is a little less affluent, sometimes just the difference of one or two towns, and the contrast is stark. The lack of supplies is startling, especially as these schools are often in areas where children need them the most.
Even in the best of circumstances teaching is a daunting task. In the beginning of the year you are given 25 or so children, none of whom is the same as the other. Some are way above grade level, some way below, some don't speak English, some come from homes with more problems than you can imagine, and you need to teach all of them. Not just the required curriculum, but how to be good people - how to co-exist, how to be kind, how to share.
When I was a teacher, I would constantly hear jokes from people about how teachers hardly worked - "Summers off! Only working 9-3!" Yeah, summers off are nice, but I always worked a good part of the summer getting ready for the next year. Working 9-3? Hmmm.... come over to my house some evening or weekend and see all the papers, tests, journals, and projects that I will be grading, not to mention planning for upcoming lessons. There really is no good response to this; the only way for the loudmouth spouting these witty remarks to possibly understand is to place them in a classroom and hand over the reins. As this will never happen, teachers can only continue about their business, teaching, caring for their students, and helping to shape them into the people we know they can be.
So, a big thank you to all the teachers out there - both those that taught me, and those that take such wonderful care of my children. You are doing an important job, and are greatly appreciated for it.