In 1984, the National Parent Teacher Association decided to take a week in May to celebrate a group of very important adults in our lives: teachers. These few days, dubbed “Teacher Appreciation Week” is next week, May 4-8. We all like to think that we show gratitude for our teachers, usually by saying “thank you” on our way out of the classroom or maybe by giving a small gift when the school year ends. Especially during such uncertain times, teachers are doing all they can to keep teaching their students because that is a reward in and of itself. However, I think we often overlook how much teachers have impacted our lives, and this holiday is often forgotten. Teachers are not in schools to spit out dates, facts, methods, and equations; we can get that from reading a textbook. They go above and beyond, answering our questions, showing us connections, and guiding our thinking; teachers inspire us.
We take advantage of all the skills that teachers have taught us. Without them, we wouldn’t know how to read, write, calculate basic math expressions, or understand our historical roots or scientific experiments. While we may not enjoy every class we take, we will always learn something, and sometimes we may grow to love the subject. I can only speak from experience:
For as long as I remember, I dreaded history/social studies. It was always my worst subject, and I didn’t find it very exciting. I understood the importance of it and how it shaped the world we currently live in, but I couldn’t find it as intriguing as some of my other classes. When I started a new school in a new state freshman year, I was offered the opportunity to take AP World History which wasn’t often offered to freshman. I chose to opt into the class because I loved being challenged. That year, I had two incredible history teachers who changed my whole perspective, and I started to notice that as I enjoyed the class more, I understood it better. That class showed me that it wasn’t just about the grades but rather understanding and appreciating the subject. I took that lesson with me to all of my classes afterward.
More than the lessons we learn in the classroom, the ones that teachers help us develop are what shape us as humans. Each subject may require a different thinking style, and they all can be used in numerous ways once we leave school. Without realizing it, we learn to be open-minded to different opinions, to adjust the way we approach problems, and to work hard towards a goal among many other skills. Sometimes teachers educate us without teaching a subject; many times I have struck up a random conversation with a teacher that either doesn’t relate to their class or I don’t have them in class, and I’ve always left learning something new. Sometimes it’s a lesson they learned from a personal experience that was shared with me; other times it’s advice that they happened to sneak in a simple, memorable statement.
My gratitude for teachers has always been strong and constantly grows, but I received the strongest feeling of appreciation when I was given the opportunity to help teach some of the Summer @ NDA camps and classes. I remember starting my first day with Mr. Bianchi’s Geometry class thinking it was going to be like tutoring fellow students. At the end of the first day, I was exhausted; I only experienced a small piece of what teachers do, so I couldn’t fathom how they could coordinate doing so much more. For the first few days, I only assisted in a group or independent work. When I got to teach a lesson to the class, I started to understand the amount of time that goes into planning. I had to think of the topic in a whole new perspective than I had when I learned it. The hardest part for me was trying to clearly articulate something I knew inside and out to students who were new to the topic. This was a skill I developed over all three weeks and in the Summer Instrumental Intensive and STEM camp as well. I was very fortunate to have mentors who guided me and who I could look up to and model my own teaching style after. It was definitely very difficult, and I have a greater sympathy towards teachers and how much of themselves they put into their job. However, throughout these three weeks, I was also able to experience the joy that comes with educating that all of my teachers had spoken about either in the classroom or in teacher interviews. I was so excited to see students understand a subject more and more, and I loved being able to share my passion for each subject in hopes that they may enjoy learning them.
When we think “teachers”, the first description that comes to mind is some man or woman in a classroom teaching a science, history, math, English, art, music, or language subject. However, Teacher Appreciation Week extends beyond those who write lesson plans and grade tests; we also celebrate those who encourage community, guide students and keep our schools running. Such staff members may include the president and/or principal, guidance counselors, the IT crew, and in our school particularly, the campus minister. In their own ways, these people teach us more about building our own lives and relationships with other people, and often, these lessons are the ones we cherish the most.
If I’ve learned anything from conducting and writing teacher interviews, it is that all teachers are very unique in so many ways, but they are all joined by their passion to educate and share their knowledge. We are tremendously lucky to be surrounded by an amazing faculty and staff. While we may not have liked every teacher we ever had, we still appreciate them because they continue to work for the good of their pupils. All of my teachers have taught me something that I can utilize both inside and outside the classroom. They also show genuine care and interest in their students’ well-being, and that is something very special.
To the faculty and staff of Notre Dame Academy Hingham, thank you for being some of the best teachers we may ever have. You’ve shaped us in so many positive ways during our pivotal time of intellectual and social growth. I can say with absolute certainty that you all played an important role in our journey, and we are so grateful for every single one of you!
Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!