Two events occurred in the past few weeks that made me realize what a gift we have in those who are teachers. The first was a visit to a school for the deaf where my older daughter has now begun to teach. My wife and I were able to visit her classroom toward the end of the school day and observe how she worked with the students in her care - kindergarten and first grade students with a variety of handicaps including being either deaf or hard of hearing.
The visit made me realize how proud I was of my daughter as I witnessed her dedication to working with this group of children with special needs. She truly loves the children she works with and is extremely competent in what she does. She has had a teaching history of working with handicapped students as well as a time as a college professor teaching college students sign language and deaf culture. It also made me realize how blessed we are to have such dedicated people as teachers wherever they work - in public or private schools, elementary, middle or high schools or colleges and universities. With the kind of world we live in today where technology reigns and students need to be prepared for life's challenges, teachers are one of the most important professions we have and need to continually support.
I was recently appointed as a pastoral leader of an urban parish while the pastor is on an extended medical leave. The parish has a parochial school attached to it and I had the privilege of meeting the teachers last week. This also made me realize how dedicated a group of teachers we have in our Catholic schools. While Catholic schools receive some federal aid for mandated programs as well as text book and software aid, and while local public school districts may provide transportation of students to the Catholic schools, these schools depend upon tuition paid by parents and monies provided by the parish. This means that the salaries that these schools are able to afford in paying their teachers are substantially below the salary scales of public school teachers (perhaps as much as half of what a public school teacher may earn). A number of these teachers must hold down second jobs in an effort to support their families. Their dedication to Catholic education is a great gift to our Church and our Catholic communities.
I have two daughters. Both are teachers by profession. My younger daughter, however, has had to give up her position as a school teacher because of an injury occurring at work some years ago coupled with her ongoing disability. Yet she remains a teacher. She teaches through her blog which I have recommended to my readers on a number of occasions (atticusmom1.blogspot.com) and by the life she leads. As someone with a disability, her very life is one of teaching as she copes with day to day living while maintaining a wonderfully balanced outlook on life and an absolutely terrific sense of humor. Her days in the classroom may be over but her classroom is the world where she attempts each day to survive and in the words she pens.
I am, as you can imagine, extremely proud of my teacher daughters. I am also proud of the teachers at my parochial school and all of our Catholic school teachers. But all teachers deserve our support no matter where their teaching may occur. They are too often undervalued in our society. May the master Teacher, Jesus Christ, extend his blessings on all those who teach as well as all those who receive the benefits of their teaching.