West Virginia Celebrates Teachers During Teacher Appreciation Week by James B. Phares, Ed.D., State Superintendent of Schools

May 08, 2013

Psychologist Theresa Grimm once said "Without teacher appreciation there can't be any student progress." As we celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week, May 6-10, and National Teacher Day, May 7, it is appropriate to take time to express my gratitude to you for your contributions both in and out of the classroom.

When you decided to become teachers, you chose a profession unlike any other. On a daily basis you wear many hats: educator, mentor, disciplinarian, advocate, psychologist, conflict manager, classroom manager, community organizer, recruiter, fund raiser,  and more. It is precisely the multifaceted roles that we take on that make teaching both challenging and rewarding. I began my career as a high school history teacher, and I can say that I never worked harder or felt more rewarded than I did during that time. We as a state must make sure that we celebrate outstanding educators like you every day for the important work you do with our children.

Research tells us that you are the single most important factor in how much a child learns at school. Your role in the classroom is ever more critical as we work to revamp our educational system statewide to improve student achievement. As teachers today, you must do more than teach basic skills. You must use quality teaching techniques to push students beyond mastery of basic skills to become tomorrow’s better educated worker, who can manage complexity, solve problems and think critically.

Your charge is not just to ensure that your students can live in the world as it is, but to ensure that they have the skills, knowledge, and dispositions that will enable them to succeed in the world that awaits them. Your challenge is to help students create their own visions for a better future in the 21st century. Thank you for your daily efforts to meet this challenge.

As a former teacher, I know first-hand the challenges you face in the classroom on a daily basis. Likewise, I firmly believe all of us, no matter the role we assume, have an obligation to prepare students with the skills they will need to become college and career ready to compete and succeed in this global society.

The days are long and the work is hard, and I encourage you to find ways to support each other and to respect each other's work. While evidence of your teaching success may not be revealed until years after your students leave the classroom, I applaud you for your commitment and thank you for the work you do on a daily basis. You deserve it.


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