Thursday, May 8, 2014

Thank you, teachers

If you can read this column, then thank a teacher.  This week marks National Teacher Appreciation Week, a week where we pause to honor teachers and thank them for the lasting contribution they make in the lives of students and our community.  Originally conceived by Ryan Krug in 1944, the idea of honoring teachers for their impact has quickly become a worldwide phenomenon celebrated in over 50 countries around the world. From Afghanistan to Argentina, Spain to South Korea, and from the United Kingdom to the United States of America, teachers are lauded each year for their selfless dedication to others. 

Oconee County Schools is blessed to have world class teachers in a small-town setting—a uniquely Oconee County experience.  As the county’s largest employer, Oconee County Schools has nearly 500 teachers that work with 7,000 students in our 10 schools for 180 days each year.  Their impact is noted on local, state, and national levels through their own individual achievements and those of our outstanding students.  Yet, teachers will tell you, including this one, that it is the individual student that returns years later to say hello, share his accomplishments, pictures of her family, and perhaps a word of gratitude that has the deepest sense of meaning and reward.  You see, great teachers teach because they love young people and learning; they love discovery and development; they love perseverance and promise; they love their content and their kids. 

Today, let’s thank them for that love, for that dedication, for that belief that the fruits of labor today will lead to the unfathomable accomplishments of tomorrow.  Thank a teacher.  Thank a teacher that impacted your life and that of your spouse, thank a teacher that impacted the life of your mother or father, thank a teacher that is impacting, has impacted, or will impact the lives of your children. 

I would like to thank Ms. Daniels, my 1st grade teacher at Seckinger Elementary School in Glennville, Georgia, for instilling in me the love of reading.  Who knew that Dick and Jane could be so exciting?  Thank you Ms. Woods, my 3rd grade teacher, for motivating me to learn my times tables with gold stars and a piece of poster board.  Thank you to Mr. Ashford, my first principal, who – rumor had it – maintained an electric paddle in his office for behavior correction.  Luckily, I never got to see the paddle, but I did get to be valued, respected, and loved by a great man who taught me much about the power of relationships.  Thank you to my high school track coach and teacher, Coach Hall, for constantly and consistently reminding me to “Go hard or go home!”  These individuals shaped who I am and what I have chosen to do with my life. 


What teacher has impacted you?  Have you thanked them?  If not, please do so today—that is what Teacher Appreciation Week is all about!  Let me here your stories about great teachers at jbranch@oconeeschools.org.  

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