Today, on National Teacher Appreciation Day, I want to focus on the multitude of ways that our profession is joyful and lift up the everyday acts of kindness that educators across the state perform to make our communities great.
In many ways, the end of the school year is the perfect time to celebrate teachers and the teaching profession. As classes wind down and our students focus on final exams and end-of-year projects, we are able to reflect on the year that has passed and on all of the progress that our learners have made.
As teachers, we get to be there when our students have their “breakthrough moments,” finally mastering a skill or a concept that had been challenging them. Witnessing the personal and academic growth of the students we are responsible for educating is a truly beautiful part of the teaching profession, and one that we should spend more time celebrating. We get to be there, every day, as the students in our classrooms discover who they want to be as individuals and realize the passions they wish to pursue. In short, our students, and the daily interactions we have with them, make teaching a joy.
Not only is teaching a profession that should be celebrated, but our teachers are engaged members of their communities who should be celebrated as individuals. Each and every day across Florida, teachers are working to improve and strengthen the communities where they live and teach. Take Kali Davis of Ridgecrest Elementary in Largo. Kali hosts “Storytime with Mav” on Instagram, helping to instill a love of books and reading for kids statewide. Tedra Mason, a teacher at DeSoto Elementary in Hillsborough County, works with Dancing for Donations, a nonprofit focused on making dance more accessible to children in the Tampa Bay area. And Cartier Scott, a teacher at Suncoast High in Riviera Beach, is a founding member and mentor with Connect to Greatness, a non-profit aimed at helping young black men in south Palm Beach County. These are just three examples of the thousands of ways that our teachers are giving back to their communities.
It can be easy to become disillusioned with our profession. The hours are long, the work is often difficult, and at times it can feel like we aren’t making the kind of progress with our students that we’d like to see. But, today of all days, I hope that you think about those breakthrough moments. About the joy of a profession where you help guide young learners and play a role in all of their future successes. And I hope we take time to celebrate one another and all of the unique and powerful ways that we contribute to our schools and communities. Education is a noble profession, and I am proud to be representing thousands of hardworking Floridians who have dedicated their lives to it. On this National Teacher Appreciation Day, and every other day of the year, you have my thanks. What you do matters.
Fedrick C. Ingram