Forget Valentine’s Day and show a little love for teachers

The only good thing about Valentine’s Day is that chocolate goes on clearance the next day.

I don’t support Valentine’s traditions. A grown woman should not receive a teddy bear. It’s just weird. On the flip side, this observance alienates single people. Actually, Saint Valentine was a priest, so he was either celibate or a really crappy boyfriend.

Valentine’s Day has no historic value, and it is expensive for parents with young children. I made the mistake of sending my oldest son to preschool with only a stack of cartoon cards to share with his friends. I felt like a loser when he came home with a bag of treats from other kids that rivaled Halloween goody bags.

The real victims of this holiday are teachers who have to deal with these exchanges, not to mention the bad combination of sugar and cabin fever. In fact, between snow days, budget shortages, overcrowding, unknown futures and a lot of hurt feelings, it’s a tough time for local teachers.

So here is my Valentine Love Letter:

Dear Teachers,

Because of you, there are no bad schools or even one school that is better than another. There are inadequate resources and lazy parents, but I’ve not met a bad teacher in all of Blount County yet.

As a former children’s pastor, I’ve visited almost every school and eaten lunch in countless cafeterias throughout Blount County. I’ve found that every school is unique, and I believe every school deserves enough funding to keep the doors open. I would be honored to send my sons to any school in Blount County. I mean that wholeheartedly.

When a school is considered high-performing, I believe it is because parents are involved in their child’s education and treat the school as a responsibility rather than a service.

Invite parents into your world. I’ve learned a great deal about what my child needs from simply volunteering to wipe down tables and trim laminated letters during class. Perhaps I’m overly optimistic, but I think creating a culture where parents partner with teachers is possible on every socioeconomic level.

I know the last thing you need is another task. I wish there was a way to eliminate paperwork so you could spend more time building relationships with parents and the community as a whole. I also wish parents would just stop complaining and start helping. Parents have often failed you, and leaders have always ignored you. If schools systems were guided by your expertise rather than bureaucratic opinion, the world would literally be a better place.

Government mandates sound good in theory. However, most of these initiatives have financed new programs while the work you’ve poured your life into is not properly funded. Even so, you’ve been creative with limited resources and far too often spent your own money on classroom materials.

Many of you are worried your school will close and all of you are threatened with being held responsible for things completely out of your control.

Regardless of what happens in the future, please know that your work is not in vain.

I did not realize it at the time but my life was forever changed for the better because of my high school English teacher, Mrs. Beverly. She opened a world of words to me with an overhead projector, some really old literature books, a chalkboard and a red ink pen. Undoubtedly, she is the reason I am a writer.

You are somebody’s Mrs. Beverly.

When I hear the phrase “student body,” I am mindful that you are the heartbeat. For what it’s worth, you all have my undying love.

P.S. I’m declaring Feb. 15 as “Chocolate for Teachers Day.”

Sarah Herron is a 30-something blonde navigating marriage, motherhood and morals in Maryville. To contact Sarah, visit her website: Blonde Faith, is published once a month in Blount Today.

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Comments » 1

agentorange007 writes:

Excellent article!

We have a couple of schools in Blount County who are making silk purses out of sow's ears for the very reasons you stated. To reiterate: truly passionate and innovative teachers and a "can do--I think I can" family oriented school culture that empasizes personal accountablility at all levels. What truly perplexes me is why on Earth do the school systems not try replicate this "good to great" mindset systemwide? Why are the parents of these schools not demanding it?

The school systems are bringing in this motivational speaker again (Bill Daggett was here in 2006) to get everybody fired up again about changing the education paradigm. In the mean time, the Maryville City Schools is trying to shutter the type of excellent school he advocates. Go figure.