The last year has taught many of us the invaluable work that our educators do every day. It takes an immeasurable amount of patience and tenacity to show up to one of the most important professions especially during a pandemic that have placed them at a higher risk of becoming ill. Our teachers, educators, school administrators, custodial and other staff were essential before Covid-19 uprooted our educational system and are even more so now. Though oftentimes they are severely undervalued, the diligence they put forth daily to ensure that our youth have the best opportunities to receive a quality education is sincerely appreciated and highly valued.
While my formal school days are long behind me, I would like to consider myself a lifetime seeker of knowledge. Much of this can be attributed to the wonderful educators I have had the blessing to encounter. One special teacher that left a lasting impact on my life was my high school English teacher Mrs. Decatur. She was as kind as she was demanding, as approachable as she was stern but most importantly she cared deeply about her students’ reaching their full potential. Her persona reminds you of your favorite auntie that always treated you like one of her own and her style of teaching made one the most mundane subjects, English, come to life. We read about characters that looked like us, that encountered issues that we could all relate to, and who lived in areas that resembled our own. The colorfulness of her personality was equally matched by the encouragement she provided me to always pursue my goals.
Attending a primarily black school never came with the negative images that television can sometimes make you believe exists. Except for the occasional fight we never witnessed any overt violence. Our flourishing arts programs, popular athletic program, and well-known marching band provided us with a sense of pride that was just as matched by the other schools in our city. The care Mrs. Decatur and her peers exemplified as they went above expectations to make sure that we were well-rounded and prepared for the world outside of school grounds is still felt today. In addition to traditional curricular, we had to opportunity to begin paths that lead to careers in cosmetology or nursing assistants. Our schools were filled our neighbors and friends that taught us and shared the ideal that children like us could prosper. Mrs. Decatur and so many others like her have been instrumental in improving the quality of life for so many of our undeserved youth.
Now that I am maneuvering through the educational system as a parent, witnessing the changes has been eye-opening. The realization that parental involvement is paramount to assisting our teachers inside of the classroom is something we should all strive to improve upon. Witnessing the preparation that educators put in and the dedication they display can never be fully understood unless you are one who is also doing the work. These types of people that truly enjoy teaching and working tirelessly to ensure our kids have the greatest chances at success are the kind that the replaced. Our teachers are facing insurmountable odds as they adapt to an ever-changing learning environments and doing our part to assist them can make a hell of a difference. From our early childhood teachers to the ones in charge of shaping the minds in higher education, your aptitude and desire to mold minds is truly your superpower.