I wanted to share this thought. I was watching a movie today with my daughter. The movie spanned the decades, touching on historical moments that our changed society. Americans developed from those moments. Wars, presidents, and culture. But at the heart of the movie was one of the spokes within that system of wheels that influenced how our communities grew: teachers.
At the end of the movie, after watching the main character find his way through his teaching career, there is an event to honor him. One of his former students gives this message:
“Mr. Holland had a profound influence on my life and on a lot of lives I know. But I have a feeling that he considers a great part of his own life misspent. Rumor had it he was always working on this symphony of his. And this was going to make him famous, rich, probably both. But Mr. Holland isn’t rich and he isn’t famous, at least not outside of our little town. So it might be easy for him to think himself a failure. But he would be wrong, because I think that he’s achieved a success far beyond riches and fame. Look around you. There is not a life in this room that you have not touched, and each of us is a better person because of you. We are your symphony Mr. Holland. We are the melodies and the notes of your opus. We are the music of your life.”
The same can be said of each of our teachers. Our children are molds. And each teacher leaves an imprint on them. Looking back at my own years K-12 there were teachers who always had a smile on their faces. Their tones were always sweet. Their instruction always nurturing. I may not remember exactly what information they taught me, but I know I wanted to learn in their classrooms. There were teachers who just through hallway interactions could brighten your day. And there were teachers who got you hooked on a subject, so much so, that your college application was written on the foundation they created with you.
I know the arguments are about money. And that’s truly unfortunate. That our students are affected by money. Sure they may not have a clear appreciation of how money is the focal point of the current negotiations… and we should be thankful for that. Because what would they say if they really understood? Some parents don’t even understand why the issue is being contested. I wish I could say “money aside,” but no one can say that. What I can say is that the same teachers we are leaving in limbo are the same ones who have never faltered in their mission to serve our students. They have come to work without a contract and taught our children. To those who think this is about money to them… it’s clearly not.
While we may not all agree on the outcome of this situation, I encourage parents to share their thoughts about this situation. All your thoughts, good or bad. You’re welcome to share in comments on this post or via email (firstname.lastname@example.org). For those sharing via email I would like to post your message on my blog, omitting the name of the sender.
One voice may create a stir, but many voices will create a storm.