Okaloosa School Superintendent Marcus Chambers writes: “Teachers have always been the backbone of public education, but today, teachers are even more important in the midst of this pandemic.”
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Last Monday marked the beginning of a historic Teacher Appreciation Week. In years past, we've given praise and accolades to our teachers for the amazing work that they perform each and every day as they strive to make a difference in the lives of students. But, this year, this Teacher Appreciation Week is different. It is different for so many reasons, the least of which because teachers are missing their students… their faculties… their school and they are “reaching” students in unfathomable ways.
Teachers have always been the backbone of public education, but today, teachers are even more important in the midst of this pandemic. Our teachers are amongst the many heroes who are taking their place in history as they go above and beyond to impact the lives of students. I have personally seen teachers drive into the neighborhoods of students in “parade style” in order to place smiles on their faces. I have seen teachers perform “Zoom Meetings” in order to help an individual student or small group of students figure out a single concept. I have seen teachers hand out meals so students could eat and distribute devices so students could learn. I have seen teachers stretch themselves in ways they never imagined they could in order to keep students engaged in this online model. I have seen teachers step up in ways that we never thought would be needed. Where public education has been questioned in years past, I think now, more than ever, public education has shown its true stripes. And... teachers have been at the heart of making a difference during this pandemic. Yes, we have had administrators, school staff, and district office folks who have stood side by side with our teachers during this effort in extraordinary ways, and for that I am so grateful and proud… but this week is dedicated to our teachers.
Each and everyone of us can remember a teacher who impacted our lives for the better. Each of us can remember that Coach, that Band Director, that Teacher… who pushed us further than we thought we could go or handle. On May 4th, 2020, students all across Okaloosa County will never forget their teachers who “taught” them through this pandemic. They may not remember the lessons learned in their courses, but they will remember the parades, the encouragement, the phone calls, the emails, the Zoom Meetings, and the slide shows created. They will remember the love shown and the encouragement provided which calmed their fears and anxiety. Twenty years from now, they will remember the impact of the Coronavirus and simultaneously, THEY WILL REMEMBER the caring teachers and educators who helped propel them to the end of the school year.
It's been said that teachers have impacted every profession and every person in our country. Whether you are a doctor or nurse, an engineer, a lawyer, a scientist, a dentist, a member of the military, and so on, each of us had a teacher who made our path possible. So, today, I thank my former teachers — Mrs. Kato, Mr. Tibbetts, Coach Sur, Frau Yount and so many more. Today, I thank the approximately 2,000 teachers of the Okaloosa County School District for the work you do for your students and for the work you are currently performing in unprecedented times. I, along with all of Okaloosa County, will be forever grateful!
This pandemic has shaken our nation and our county. However, our teachers, along with their colleagues, have played a major role in bringing a sense of normalcy and calm into the chaotic world we find ourselves. So, today, I wanted to take a moment to give thanks to our teachers for their sacrificial mindset, efforts, and love they have shown and will always show for their students. In closing please always remember the quote by Henry Brooks Adams… “A teacher affects eternity; he or she can never tell where his or her influence stops.”
Marcus Chambers, superintendent of schools, Okaloosa County