You Are the Hope We Need

“Have you heard anyone say anything bad about your teachers?” I asked my children one night after school.

“No! Never!” They unanimously replied, with a slight hint of disgust on their faces.

“People at my school only say teachers are nice, thoughtful, and kind,” said Lucy.

“The sixth-grade teachers at my school work really hard to make sure kids understand,” responded Jude. “No one has any reason to say something bad about them.”

“I love my teachers and I know I can talk to them about anything,” Maddie answered.


While the outside world wages war on public education, my own children experience nothing but pure love from you, the resilient and determined teachers inside their little world.


Though I might not be fortunate enough to share their distance from the present criticisms of education, in my role as building principal I delight in the increasingly frequent phone calls, emails, and “drop-in” discussions about the lengths to which you go to help our students.


One parent told me that a Spanish teacher drove out to their rural property just to leave a study packet on a fence post while her son was sick. His math teacher spent at least thirty minutes on the phone explaining the math lessons to him.


A history teacher in our building is known for saying, “I don’t care how you get the work to me–I’ll take it in smoke signals if that’s what works for you!”


When our largest staffing shortage hit us out of nowhere, you jumped right in to help cover classes and combine learning experiences to minimize the impact on students. You gave up lunches and took on extra duties. No one ever asked you to do those things. You did it simply because you love our students and you believe in their futures.


So, for whatever distrust and divide this seemingly never-ending pandemic has caused outside of our buildings, it has only proven your strength and resolve. I don’t mean to say that my glasses are so rosey that I’m in denial about the state of education at the moment, but I do mean that you are seen.


Teachers, we see your innovation and endless desire to find a way. Counselors, we see you soothing unthinkable trauma. Library media specialists, we see you creating safe spaces for children to engage their brains in new ways and regulate their unwieldy emotions. Paraprofessionals, we see you stepping into gaps and standing arm-in-arm with seasoned veteran educators. Food service workers, we see you delivering food to ensure that even our sick children do not miss a meal. Custodians, we see your invaluable hallway chats with the kids who just need a shoulder to cry on. Principals, assistants, and deans, we see you carrying the weight of your staff’s and your communities’ hardships on your shoulders.


If they only knew. If only they could see it, hear it, feel it. There would be no more discussion. There would simply be an understanding that teachers are the very best thing this country has going for it.


To everyone in the school building, everyone touching the lives of our students, we see you. We see you all wearing the shoes of “teacher,” and we want you to know that you are loved


I still have faith that we will emerge from this pandemic with the unanimous understanding that all of our hope for a better tomorrow rests on the shoulders of teachers. You bear this burden for our kids, for our society, for *us*. Thank you for keeping our flame alive.

Courtney Cochran, a National Board Certified Teacher and the 2017 Arkansas Teacher of the year, is the principal of Cedarville High School.

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