In Journalism, we touch on a lot of big topics- COVID-19, the election, mental health, BLM– and some not so big topics– pets, astrology readings, and boomer culture. But in addition to those sections is another one: topics that change your perspective. One day amidst the banter and chaos that is 8th-period Journalistic writing, we started talking about teachers that impacted us, knowingly or not.
Whether they pulled us aside to talk about things that reminded them of us, our futures after WHS, or our well being, teachers are much more than just educators; they are mentors, cheerleaders, and role models. Teachers deserve to be recognized and appreciated for their hard work in and out of the classroom.
“Relationships are very important to me between me and my students,” says Physics and Chemistry teacher Mr. Berger. Strong relationships between teachers and students are important; When you develop a good relationship it makes classes more engaging. Personally, classes, where I [VB] have a strong relationship with the teacher, are my favorite.
We as students often base our self-worth on the grades we receive in certain courses. We associate a bad grade with a disappointed teacher… but that’s almost always never the case. Mr. Berger, remarks, “A lot of students don’t get that I don’t care how you do in my class as long as you were trying.” Over quarantine, I [VB], decided to do a science competition with Mr. Berger. My project completely flopped and instead of a lecture, he told me how proud of me he was for merely trying. Teachers see the best in us before we do.
The value of mentorships and adult role models is often overlooked. Mr. Malek, Band Director, says, “I think it is important that everyone has a mentor in life – no matter where you are or how old you are. If you don’t have someone that you are learning from or growing to be more like, you can get stuck in a rut.” Learning from external experiences and applying them to our lives through the lens of our values and beliefs is what makes everyone different in their own way.
On the other hand, being a role model for someone else is also an opportunity to spread positivity. “I always want to be who I am, I never tried to be somebody I wasn’t,” says Mr. Wool, Law teacher. Every time I’d [APB] walk down the halls and see Mr. Wool, he’d greet me with the name of his favorite jazz drummer, Art Blakey, and although no one knew what either of us was talking about, Mr. Wool and I had a mutual understanding, and the encounter would always end with a shared smile. A true role model spreads kindness and sincerity despite what any others may think.
Because of remote learning, this constant positivity is at times hard to maintain. And teachers, who are held to high standards, struggle just as much as students do. Mr. Malek shares, “I’ve tried to mix [rehearsal] up with unique zoom activities that we wouldn’t typically do if we were in our normal performance-driven curriculum. These activities take a lot of effort for often a one-shot chance to succeed. It hurts when the activities aren’t as well-received as I wish they’d be, but I keep trying and try not to let it drain my emotional energy. When the going gets tough, I’ve tried to separate my work life from my personal/family life.”
Teachers are some of the most underappreciated people in our society. They shape the minds of younger generations, and therefore the future. Yet, they never get as much credit as they deserve. This year has been particularly tough. Educators were pushed into a new teaching environment and told to make it work. They’re still held to the same standards despite the ever-changing circumstances of our world. To that, we say thank you to all educators. Thank you for continuing to inspire, encourage, motivate, and most importantly educate students. The dedication teachers put into their work does not go unnoticed.
Lastly, for all the students that may be struggling with a teacher-student relationship, in the words of Mr. Berger, “a reminder to all the students out there that they are cared for by their teachers and that there are almost certainly people thinking about them [throughout] the whole day.” You are cared for and supported.
Thank you, teachers, for all that you do.