To the educators of St.Maarten,
This week, our country acknowledges and commends you for your diligent efforts on behalf of our students. Teachers have one of the most difficult and rewarding jobs because they literally shape and change lives. We honor and thank you for the crucial part you play in assisting children and enhancing the future of our country, especially during Teacher Appreciation Week.
However, I believe Teacher Appreciation Week needs a new place in our country’s calendar of events. Allowing it to get the true value and recognition it deserves outside of the midterm vacation.
Designing difficult lessons, guiding students through their learning, giving feedback to students, engaging with parents and families, working with colleagues, reflecting on your instruction, keeping up with research and changes in content and pedagogy, and being a leader in your schools all require a lot of time and effort.
However, a large portion of the work you perform also involves the intangible; it involves developing that seemingly unexplainable but nonetheless inescapable spark between you and your students.
It exists when you identify every student’s potential, even if he or she isn’t yet aware of his or her own talents when they enter your classroom. It’s there when you see the student sitting quietly in your class, hoping no one will notice that her or his home life has completely collapsed. It’s there when you lend a sympathetic ear and support to the student who doesn’t have a place to call home, who doesn’t have a network of friends outside of the classroom, or who just isn’t sure where he or she belongs. It’s there when you provide food to a hungry child, speak with a student who has missed class, and create a community in your classroom where everyone feels comfortable.
You are supporting the development of students’ strong character characteristics, which they will utilize to make decisions on a regular basis. You are encouraging lifelong learners, empowering people to take part more actively in our democracy, and, most significantly, you are allowing students the freedom to choose, enabling them to have an infinite number of possibilities for their career and life pathways.
So, I undoubtedly appreciate you for giving our students more power and by never giving up until every child has access to quality education. Thank you for performing this important work without expecting recognition; nonetheless, please know that the WITU and I believe that teaching ought to be elevated and honored.
In closing, I’m appreciative of all teachers for performing this tremendously difficult but vitally necessary work for the students in our country.
Happy World Teachers’ Day!
Yours in education,
President of the WITU