Today is National Teacher Appreciation Day and I was thinking about my many teachers through the years. I went through 16 years of Catholic School and 2 years of graduate work, so that is a lot of teachers. They were mostly female, until I got into my college years when they became mostly male. Of course, they were mostly men and women of faith. Some were priests and religious. Most were middle-aged, with a few either being very young or much older. Overall, a great diversity of people.
Did they all love teaching? I wish I could say for sure the answer is yes, but probably at least a couple of them wished they were doing something else. Most seemed happy, but a few seemed pretty angry with the world. There were those who seemed to love everything about their students. They would hang up creations of their students just like proud parents. You always felt closest to the teachers that seemed to relish in your work, even if it was more about giving encouragement than it was about actual love for your efforts.
All of these teachers only really had one thing in common: me. They all taught me. Each one of them touched my life in some way. Even though my interaction with them probably didn’t change them at all, it molded and formed me into the person I am today. They all taught me, yet little of me remains with them. Yet, they all have deposited a part of themselves in me.
To be able to share yourself with another so as to leave behind a part of yourself behind with that person is a profound. No teacher has the capacity to remember every student they ever had, but many of us can remember every teacher we ever had. That is because, for better or worse, they made an impact on us.
In exchange for that profound impact, most of them work for low wages, long hours, and little support. They give and give, sometimes not only their time but also their treasure. The good teachers give so much of themselves but never count the cost. They knew what they were getting into but they decided it was worth it. They wanted to help students like me become people who could make a difference in the world. The hope of what their students could become is enough.
Do you want to understand good stewardship? Chances are you can look no further than your favorite teacher. Thanks to all mine that through the years showed me that to give of oneself freely and without counting the cost was a path worth walking.