This week, you should thank a teacher

CMS Superintendent Ann Clark with Rivergate Elementary teacher Matthew Dukes, last year’s CMS Teacher of the Year.
CMS Superintendent Ann Clark with Rivergate Elementary teacher Matthew Dukes, last year’s CMS Teacher of the Year.

From Ann Clark, Superintendent of Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools:

Lauren Rohrer, a sixth-grade English teacher at Martin Luther King, Jr. Middle, left banking for public education because “it made me happier than anything else.” Natasha Deese, a career and technical education instructor at Butler High, says teaching “is a calling that’s been consistent throughout my life.” Justin Parmenter, a language arts teacher at E.E. Waddell Language Academy, taught in Albania and Istanbul before coming to CMS and says, “I believe so strongly that we should be able to offer the highest quality public education possible.”

Heather Glover, who teaches at Legette Blythe Elementary, carries her teaching into the summer by tutoring former students until they go to middle school. Maggie Barker, a teacher at Park Road Montessori, grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., where she saw that education was a ladder out of poverty.

Jordan Todd, who teaches second grade at Walter G. Byers School, saw her mother teaching and realized, “I could be a teacher.” Rob Leichner, a West Meck math teacher, says, “The only thing students can’t do is what you don’t ask them to do.”

One of these seven educators will be named the 2016 Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools Teacher of the Year this week, which is also national Teacher Appreciation Week. These seven teachers represent their colleagues, the 8,882 full-time employees in Charlotte-Mecklenburg Schools who are teachers. They illuminate the commitment, the caring and the optimism that our CMS teachers bring to school every day.

I believe the citizens of Mecklenburg County must demonstrate a similar commitment to, and care for, our teachers. We must affirm the profession of teaching on behalf of the amazing individuals who have chosen this vital and noble vocation of teaching our children.

Here’s one way the community could do this: Make a teacher’s ID badge a passport that opens the door to affordable housing, free or reduced-price daycare slots, free internet service, waived deposit fees and much more.

So how can you affirm the profession of teaching? You can start by joining me in reaching out to a teacher who had an impact on you or maybe your child or grandchild. Thank a teacher who is a neighbor or a friend. Just imagine if each Mecklenburg County resident accepted the challenge of thanking one teacher this week.

In a spirit of leading by example, I publicly thank Louise Chubbs, my fifth-grade teacher, who believed in my potential, recognized my need to be challenged, encouraged my love of reading, boosted my confidence as a student and inspired me to follow in her footsteps. Louise Chubbs, because of you I became a teacher, a lifelong educator and now a superintendent deeply committed to advocacy on behalf of teachers and to inspiring students to become teachers, just as you inspired me in fifth grade to see a clear pathway to my own vocation as a teacher.

Every day in our public schools, students are learning the skills they must have to thrive and succeed as adults. They are learning to read, to write, to calculate and to think. They are learning about science and math and social studies and history. They are learning how to be citizens of our city, our country and the world. And they are learning because of teachers.