Capturing Moments: In Praise of Public School Teachers
“Your children are not your children. They are the sons and daughters of Life’s longing for itself.”
–Kahlil Gibran, On Children
Today my daughter turns 18. It’s a milestone marked by an upcoming high school graduation, college applications, driving in her own car (my old Chevy), senior class pictures, and life beyond home and family.
Her horizon is so vast and unknown that I can’t imagine what it holds for her or for the world community that she joins.
In Buddhism, we are taught to stay in the present moment. The past is gone and the future has not yet happened. I am going to veer away from those teachings today as I reflect upon my daughter’s life. Maybe it’s the writer in me that wants to capture beautiful, fleeting moments in life and hold them close to my heart. Sometimes, those brief memories stored away are the most precious treasures we have as life zips past.
In a blink, I went from gazing into my daughter’s newborn eyes to watching her dress up for prom in formal wear. Somehow, she went from an infant cradled securely in my arms to stepping out into the world as a young woman. The parent in me asks (setting all science and logic aside): How did this happen? How did this young child become this incredible, gifted young woman?
Reflecting back over the years, I find myself feeling tremendous gratitude for all the teachers who helped shape my daughter’s life. She’s had access to books, art supplies, science fairs, math competitions, Spanish instructions, history lessons, outreach projects, and, more importantly, a vibrant educational community. Throughout her time in Indiana public schools, I have been overwhelmingly impressed by the dedication, skill, and quality of the teachers she has been fortunate to experience. Under their tutelage, guidance, and care, she has thrived. In service to teaching, these instructors (who are top notch in their areas of study) are devoting time and energy to the students that goes well beyond any financial reimbursement. Such teachers are a gift to the children and to the community that these youth eventually enter as adults.
Teaching is one of the highest callings. As such, teachers deserve our utmost support and respect. We might ask them what they need to do their jobs better. We might praise them for the extra time they put in addressing family, health, and safety issues that have nothing to do with the subject matters they teach. Rather than demeaning their intelligence and their profession with a barrage of blame and criticism, why not thank those teachers who are making a difference in the lives of our children.
As my daughter celebrates turning 18, I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to all the individuals and groups that are contributing to her growth. Children are vital members of our community and raising them well requires the efforts of all.
To my daughter, I want to say, “Happy Birthday! You brighten the world… just by being you.”
In joy and gratitude,