To the Contrary

Show teachers your appreciation this week

As this is American Education Week, I hope the Rock Hill community will join me in recognizing our teachers for what they do each and every day for our students. It gives me great pleasure to visit in our schools and talk with our students about what they are learning. Nothing better reveals the incredibly hard work and daily accomplishments that go on in our classrooms than to stroll through the halls of our schools unannounced, as I often do. I'm always amazed at what I see occurring, and it makes me proud to be part of such a caring, compassionate and conscientious school district.

Educational statistics are what make the headlines, but it is the intangibles that go on hourly in our school buildings that truly make a district great. It is impossible to guess the number of noses that are wiped, shoes that are tied or hugs that are given when they're needed the most. Nothing is more rewarding than to see the priceless look children get on their faces when a difficult idea or concept is understood. I can't count the number of children whose faces I have observed when their eyes light up and you hear "I got it!" This is what education is all about.

Statistics do not reveal the countless hours that our teachers spend before and after school helping students resolve personal conflicts. However, I can assure you that even the cynics would be in awe, because this occurs almost daily for virtually every teacher in our district. It is this personal touch that transcends yet augments their teaching and makes our district family so great. The number of positive notes, certificates, rewards or recognitions that are given to students by their teachers for almost everything you can imagine are, quite simply, impossible to count.

You will not see in any state or national report that all of our third-graders are learning water safety through their classes at the Rock Hill Aquatics Center. Few people realize that most of our students study a foreign language. You have to visit a classroom to see that technology is not only integrated into every subject matter but that our teachers also discuss the ethics and the validity of its use.

Every school daily provides a moment of silence, and then students recite the Pledge of Allegiance. In the past week alone, there were more special programs about or involving our military veterans than I could attend. There is always a considerable stack of requests from teachers who wish to take their students on field trips, band and athletic competitions, or extracurricular activities beyond the school day, clearly indicating that our teachers view the classroom as something that goes well beyond mere time and space.

On top of all of this, our teachers participate in book studies, attend classes, read and discuss the latest research and are always sharing with each other and with me new information that they believe can help us improve. Most of this time is spent at night and on the weekends, time for which the only compensation they receive is doing their jobs better than before.

They not only teach calculus, physics and the importance of history and government; they also teach the beauty of art, poetry, music and dance. They teach within and without conventional settings and calendars. And, they teach it to students who are gifted, who have special needs, and to those for whom English is a second language. They regularly reach into their own pockets to buy school supplies or to provide a hungry child with lunch money. They praise, encourage and teach that which the students need to be successful in their lives.

It is only fitting, then, that our teachers and staff be praised and encouraged during this week that celebrates American education. Please join me in patting them on their backs for their devotion and commitment and for, yet again, a job well done.