The term "teacher" can be substituted with instructor, educator, tutor, trainer, guide and coach. But to capture the full impact of what a teacher is, one must really precede that titular name with appropriate adjectives. Coming quickly to mind are: caring, dedicated, patient, knowledgeable, inspiring, empathetic, generous, understanding, passionate, tireless, resourceful and unselfish. Teachers do more than teach, instructors do more than instruct, educators do more than educate. And so it goes. Add any or all of these adjectives to the various job titles and you approach those intangible qualities that truly define the remarkable role of today's teachers.
The first full week in May is designated as National Teacher Appreciation Week, with Tuesday, May 9, as National Teacher Day. Political and educational leaders first began discussions for a day to honor teachers in 1944. In 1953, former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt persuaded the 81st Congress to proclaim a day of national recognition for its teachers. Originally celebrated in March, the designation was moved to the May date in 1985. Regardless of the month or whether it is a single day or weeklong observance, our teachers truly deserve honor and recognition.
As retired educators, the members of the Western Zone of the New York State Retired Teachers' Association deem it our pleasure and obligation to lead this tribute to our active teachers. Comparatively, our jobs were easier. Our careers were not so heavily menaced with bureaucratic regulations. Most of us worked in an atmosphere in which teachers were highly respected and not considered to be the cause of all social ills.
We appreciate the challenges that confront today's educators. On the local level, budgetary constraints often result in crowded conditions and inadequate resources. The potential State Constitutional Convention could result in the loss of the guaranteed protections of a free public education for all students, as well as union representation and collective bargaining rights for the educators. The Federal Department of Education is under questionable leadership and motivation in respect to our public school system. The continued emphasis on testing and accountability frequently results in structured "one size fits all" sessions instead of individual, innovative and creative lessons. Yet, despite the socioeconomic and regulatory conditions over which you have no control and an uncertain future, you continue to perform at exemplary levels. Effective teaching is far from being a lost art; its recognized value, however, has become a lost tradition.
To all of you actively involved in education: embrace our chosen profession knowing that you really do make a huge difference in the lives of your students and community. Who you are as a caring person and role model will long outlive the content that you present. We value you and your efforts! We thank you! We salute you!
Doris R. Kirsch,
President Western Zone,
NYS Retired Teachers’ Association