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There are only two more days of school left. When I was a child, the end of the school year was anticipated with great excitement. We cleaned out our desks, washed the chalk boards, ate cookies, and brought little presents to our teachers. When the final bell rang, we’d skip out of the school chanting, “No more school, no more books, no more teachers, dirty looks.” For me, the truth was a little more complicated. I would miss the structure of the classroom and the stable, solid assurance and encouragement of my teacher. Teachers were usually feared, always revered, and sometimes loved. As I grew older, I saw that teachers were human. They went home at night and had lives. They had foibles. They had bad days when their students made them want to tear their hair out. They also had good days when the light clicked on in a student, and that elusive moment of true learning occurred. There were a few grumpy teachers who were burned out, just putting in their time until retirement — but that was the exception. Almost all teachers were there, slogging through the school year, because they loved children and were dedicated to teaching. When I became a teacher, I experienced first hand how complicated, how frustrating, and how hard it is to make that moment of learning occur in the students. I loved my students and cared deeply about their lives, but I wasn’t able to reach all of them. As my own children grew up and entered the school system, I had a great appreciation for the teachers who truly inspired them. My oldest son’s kindergarten teacher was one of those great teachers. Every day he would come home from school on fire with what he’d learned that day. He was full of joy and had to tell me all about it. Each of my children had at least one teacher who truly cared about them, who inspired them to learn and made them want to be better people. At the end of the school year, I always made sure that the teachers got a thank you letter, for even if my kids didn’t appreciate it at the time, I knew how hard each of the teachers had worked that year. So, as this school year winds to a close and my youngest son dons his cap and gown, I pay tribute to all the teachers out there who have dedicated their lives to teaching. The salary is a joke, and the job is largely unappreciated, but the art of inspiring children, of lighting the fire inside them that makes them hunger and thirst after knowledge, to become all that they can be, is truly the noblest of professions. Thank you.

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