As I work to uplift the teaching profession, I want to be mindful of supporting university students who plan to pursue a career in education. Last night, I met a phenomenal group of future educators at Taylor University in Upland. As I spoke with undergraduate students, I sensed their passion for committing their lives to a profession that allows them to impact our future. I encouraged them to keep pursuing their mission as educators despite the sometimes negative responses they hear when they tell others about their career choice.
I was interested to hear about Taylor’s elementary education program that places juniors in full day field experiences twice a week. I could tell the students had spent the entire day with children because they had that typical, “worn out but satisfied” look on their faces. Students at Taylor are clearly being well-prepared for a demanding, but rewarding, future in education. Although I know I was supposed to be there to inspire future educators, I was the one who left blessed. Our children are in good hands now, yet it is nice to know that this commitment to excellence will continue in the years to come. Thank you, Taylor University, for welcoming me to your campus with warmth and excitement. I cherished the time we were able to spend together.
The brewing storm outside Andrews Elementary School did little to dampen the sunny dispositions of the students. In fact, they continually reflected the rays of caring that first emanated from the adults in the building. I know this school well because first my son, and now my daughter, have basked in the sunlight of these phenomenal teachers. It was an incredible blessing to spend Friday, September 7th honoring these educators who have had such a dramatic impact on our family.
As I circled the school on a mission to celebrate every teacher, I reflected on the number of times I walked the same halls as a parent. When I became a parent, I viewed teaching through a different lens. I suddenly realized that behind every child’s face was an adult who entrusted me with life’s most valued possession. All of our experiences at Andrews have allowed me to not only trust the teachers, but also appreciate the unique contributions they make in our children’s lives. Learning at Andrews is engaging and challenging, but the staff also understands, “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” Based on my observations and experiences, the children at Andrews KNOW their teachers care about them. Thank you, Andrews Elementary School for continually shining your light of caring into the lives of so many children. Your initial rays of kindness will reach farther than you ever know when those children, who have learned about caring through your example, continue to reflect that light.
“You don’t have to see the whole staircase; just take the first step.”-Martin Luther King, Jr.
Last week, I had the opportunity to visit Monroe Primary Center School in South Bend. As I stood at the bottom of a staircase and marveled at the grandeur of this beautifully restored building, the words of Martin Luther King Jr. entered my mind. I was visiting on the fifth day of school, and yet, the staff and students at Monroe had already embraced the concept of taking the first steps toward an incredible school year. The smiling, engaged students working under the expertise of dedicated educators, who had clearly spent many hours preparing their rooms, was a refreshing reminder that teachers are willing to invest in the “first steps” of a child’s life even though they may never see what happens at the top.
As I walked through the halls with Monroe’s energetic principal, Mrs. Jill VanDriessche, I commented on the climate of the school. The entire school was a paradise of positivity filled with students who already understood and followed the procedures needed to create a safe and welcoming school environment. The teachers allowed me to spend a few minutes encouraging their students to join me on a state-wide mission to “celebrate teaching.” I told the students they could help me by thanking their teachers for one specific thing every single day. The students’ enthusiastic response led me to believe that they have plenty to be thankful for!
In keeping with my challenge for the students, I want to express my gratitude to the entire staff of Monroe Primary Center for continuing to invest in the lives of those precious children. I left the building confident that the students at Monroe Primary Center are well on their way to an incredible destination at the “top of the stairs” thanks to the caring educators who are helping them navigate the first steps.