Glass Half Full: End of the school year – thank a teacher | SierraSun.com

Glass Half Full: End of the school year – thank a teacher

Ruth Glass
Glass Half Full

It's about this time of year that jokes about how tired teachers are at the end of the year start making the rounds at parties (of educators) and on social media.

Comparisons are frequently made to being run over by trucks and such. The prevailing counter response tends to have something to do with the coming months and "all the free time" teachers get.

I suggest that good, dedicated teachers fully earn the summer respite — which has been cut by a third over the last several decades and during which teachers are expected to pursue professional development of one sort or another. Consider the last month of any school year as reflective of the kind of energy and commitment and time provided to your children.

Fifth-grade teachers around the state of Nevada have spent a week away with their charges at places like Grizzly Creek. There they spend the days participating in ropes and initiatives courses, hikes, team building games, etc. At night they comfort homesick or frightened children and keep careful watch to make sure that curfews are observed.

High school coaches travel great distances with their tired teams to participate in championships. Classroom teachers on all levels prepare for final assessments that, in too many situations, end up being used against them.

Lake Tahoe School 3rd graders have just returned from an overnight at Camp Galilee and the 5th-graders are still away at Point Reyes, where they camp every spring.

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Our 6th and 7th grades students are readying for a trip to Feather Falls Scenic Area, where their task will be to transport two disabled veterans in wheel chairs up the long trail to the falls. Our 8th grade team will travel to the Channel Islands off the coast of Southern California for four days of culminating activities.

In all of our schools, teachers will write reports, meet with parents to share children's needs over the summer, coordinate activities surrounding year-end celebrations, and keep teaching until the very end.

Teachers are with those students — here and in schools around the country — every step of the way on the aforementioned trips. They leave behind their own children and spouses to take care of others'.

All my professional life I have heard people suggest that I didn't go into teaching to make money, which is very true. Like my colleagues around the world, I went into teaching to make a difference in children's lives — as others did for me.

We measure our successes through the gains of our students. Frankly, I believe our nation's attitude toward education in terms of compensation is both discouraging and disappointing.

That attitude, however, has never kept teachers from dedicating our lives to what we believe is fantastic work. Our biggest rewards often come from students discovering their own capabilities and from parents who recognize and appreciate the gift of a good teacher. Now is a good time to stop and thank the teachers in your lives for all their contributions this year.

Ruth Glass is headmaster at Lake Tahoe School. She can be reached for comment through her blog at http://www.laketahoeschool.org.