The first week of May is full of moments created to celebrate and appreciate many people in our lives – teachers, nurses, therapists, paraeducators, behavior specialists and many, many support personnel. This year, National Teacher Appreciation Day is Tuesday, May 4. However, at the Elizabeth Lee Black School we are recognizing all of our staff who work so diligently in our school during “Staff Appreciation Week.”
We agree with former First Lady Michelle Obama, who aptly stated: “At a time when more and more jobs require a good education, teacher’s week couldn’t be more important.” A good teacher can change a student’s life, creating worlds of opportunity, shaping the future and inspiring dreams. I think back to a teacher who influenced me and remember Sister Eulalia from Villa Maria grade school. Sister Eulalia was an English scholar, who instilled in us the knowledge and importance of good grammar. We spent hours diagramming prayers as a means of understanding subject/verb agreement, the error in dangling participles, and sentence fragments. When we entered Sister’s classroom, our knees were shaking and our hands were trembling, we were so nervous that we would make a mistake! However, we survived and today I credit my writing skills to Sister Eulalia.
Of course, I also look back to the teachers who had such a positive impact on Ryan’s learning. The first that comes to mind is Mrs. T, a retired first grade teacher who tutored Ryan from first grade to fifth grade. Mrs. T’s guiding philosophy was that if a student isn’t learning, then we must change how we teach him – a sentiment that echoes throughout the Elizabeth Lee Black School.
And of course, I cannot forget my aunt, Dr. Gertrude Barber, our founder. She considered herself first and foremost a teacher. She was President of a multi-million-dollar agency, but her greatest happiness was found in being with her children, her students.
I encourage you to think back over your education. Who were the shining lights? Who inspired your dreams? It’s never too late to reach out to those people who made an impact on your life to tell them “Thank You!”