Monday, May 4, 2015

Teacher Appreciation Week: A message from John to our teachers

If you look up ‘teacher’ in a dictionary the definition is pretty simple
noun: one that teaches; especially :  one whose occupation is to instruct.  
These few words do not begin to cover all that a teacher is or does. There is so much more to teaching - and I am grateful that UCFSD has so many of you doing an exemplary job across the district every day.
A quality education is the result of many factors - one could even say ‘it takes a village to teach children well.’ That is true - as long as the most prominent villagers are teachers.  There are so many accouterments – books, computers, microscopes, bulletin boards, sound systems, instruments, etc - that complement education BUT without the expertise of a great teacher their value is diminished.  In every classroom, in every lab, in every gymnasium, on every stage - UCFSD has dedicated and remarkable teachers changing the world for our students.  
When UCFSD is lauded and recognized by outside organizations the kudos are all yours.  Here in administration we have fine folks who analyze data, review curricula, and evaluate the pedagogy (and more!). Teachers implement the programs, share information, and make magic happen.  There is no replacement or alternative to superior teaching - and thankfully we are chock full of excellent teachers.  The worth of a school district is determined by what happens in its classrooms.
For all of you who help our youngest students - the Hillendale Huskies, the Chadds Ford Chargers, the Pocopson Patriots, and the Unionville Stars - run, advance, understand, and shine - THANK YOU.  When kids get a solid foundation in elementary school they are prepared for what comes next - in school and in life. You set a high bar and teach the students to reach for it every time.
For those Patton Hawks - who give middle schoolers wings to soar with - THANK YOU.  Navigating the ‘tween years’ again (!) is not for the faint of heart - but you make it look easy.  When they leave - they are ready.  Job well done.
For those Unionville Indians - who usher students through a vast expanse of intellectual, artistic, athletic, technological, and scientific options and beyond - THANK YOU. The time between middle school and college is uniquely important in our memories and lives - and your abilities to accommodate and appreciate so much is amazing. 
For all of the others teachers, aides, assistants and volunteers who spend time with our students and add to their educational experiences - THANK YOU.  We are a better district because of you,
My late mother-in-law Pat was a much-beloved elementary school teacher for 40 years.  During her career math was revamped three times, reading was organized by color and then by ability, class size went up (38) and down (24), and technology crept in – teaching one of her second -graders US geography via the Weather Channel. Pat was a consummate professional who loved her job - every single minute of it.   She was retired and I was a middle school teacher when we met - and we had many long and lively conversations about schools, testing, teaching, curricula, superintendents (she knew a few - some better than others) and every other thing under the educational sun.  Her comments were thought - out, thoughtful, and I think of them often. One observation Pat shared resonated with me then - and is always in the back of my mind….”As long as you have a teacher and a student education will take place. All of the other stuff is nice- and helpful - but if you have those two people - that is enough.”   
My gratitude for all you do is but a small acknowledgment of your value to UCFSD and its students, and their families- but is genuine.  Pat would be happy to know that UCFSD has such superior teachers - and then she would remind me to appreciate them.    
Pat’s son-in-law.