Thank you, Mr. Olsen. Thank you Ms. Lee. Thank you Sister Claire. Thank you Mrs. Hildebrand.

My list is a long one. There are so many teachers who brought me to where I am in my life, and except for one or two, I have no idea where they are today. I went to Catholic school in Georgia until I was ten and then I mostly went to Department of Defense schools wherever the Army sent my dad.  I went to public schools in Fairbank at Ryan Jr. High and Queen Anne High School in Seattle and Box Elder High School in Brigham City, Utah and El Paso Community College in (not El Paso, but) Colorado Springs and then on to the University of Utah.

I had incredible teachers all my life. And I am not alone.

Follow NEA’s board National Teacher Day on Pinterest.

It is a common American experience to feel a connection to your schools and the people who touched your lives there. It is a historic American experience that some of our most revered, courageous social justice icons fought to give ALL children – no matter the color of their skin, the language they spoke, or where they found God – to be able to have a good public neighborhood school that cherished all of them.

In the beautiful month of May we commemorate a lawsuit that changed, literally, the face of public schools. Mr. Oliver Brown was a welder and part-time pastor in Topeka, Kansas.  His little girl, Linda, had been prevented from enrolling in the neighborhood public school and forced to walk six blocks to the bus stop and ride to an all-black school far from her house.  Mr. Brown was listed first in a string of plaintiffs who sued the Topeka Board of Education and so the case bears his name: Brown vs. The Board of Education.

But, as we know, winning a lawsuit doesn’t win hearts and minds.  Brown vs. the Board was only the beginning of one hard-fought win after another after another. It was a fight. Hearts were broken. Heads were broken. But the marches of the Civil Rights Movement marched us to this place today. Because enough hearts and minds were won, children have rights. 

They have a right to a clean building and paper and pencils and books and everything that goes with a quality public education. They have a right to have caring school support staff to feed them and maintain the building and answer the phones. And most of all, they have a right to a teacher who sees them as the miracles that they are and who opens them up to the possibilities of who they could become. They have a right to a loving, competent, prepared and passionate teacher.

It’s time to celebrate those teachers, preschool to graduate school.  Say thank you to your favorite teachers using the NEA hashtag – #thankateacher – on National Teacher Day May 6th. Or make a Vine video thanking a teacher in your life.

We are inspired by how far we’ve come. We are driven to move ever forward. But we cannot forget to stop every now and then and remember. And smile. And thank a teacher.

Thank you Dr. Sorensen. Thank you Mr. Larson. Thank you Mr. Fleming. Thank you Mrs. Stuart.

One Response to “#ThankATeacher”

  1. Tom Staszewski

    Dr. Staszewski’s writing style in Total Teaching parallels his message for the everyday teacher. He continually gives positive motivating examples from his own life and others to reaffirm how important it is for the teacher to implement positive forces in their life and thereby in the classroom. His book is also very teacher friendly. The relaxing ease of his tone accommodates the busy everyday teacher who may not have any time to spare for reading anything beyond their preparation for a lesson.

    This book is full of refreshing and inspiring metaphors, quotes, and other types of references that can help change your perspective and make a positive difference in your classroom. Comparisons of teachers to athletes are found throughout the book signifying the shared determination and dedication to persevere and succeed. Powerful and insightful quotes by influential individuals pepper the pages as they carry his point further. He also offers a section of famous quotes at the end of the book for reference and inspiration. One of these quotes is by William Butler Yeats, “’Education is not the filling of a pail, but the lighting of a fire‘” (134). And as Dr. Staszewski metaphorically points out in his book, teachers are the “torch bearers”. But my favorite quote of the book strikes at the core of what it means to be a teacher and the opportunities you have to change lives. When referring to his own teachers in life, Dr. Staszewski states, “Teachers have the unique opportunities to be at the right place at the right time, when we were susceptible to learning a profound truth or developing a new way of doing something” (81). Teachers take on such a fortunate and privileged role to be real witnesses to a child’s learning and even greater yet, to be the catalyst to that learning. He reminds teachers that they change lives just by caring enough to be a teacher. When you read Total Teaching: Your Passion Makes It Happen, remember that you have the opportunity to not only change your life, but ultimately the lives of the twenty-nine “angels” who face and look to you every day.

    Author Tom Staszewski, Total Teaching: Your Passion Makes It Happen. Lanham, Maryland: Rowman & Littlefield, 2008. Ann Marie Lathan has been teaching as an adjunct professor at Mercyhurst University for many years. She also holds an active certificate for teaching high school English and has taught in the Cleveland area for several years.

    Copies are available through the publisher Rowman and Littlefield and also at amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com or from Rowman & Littlefield Education Phone: (301) 459-3366, http://www.rowmaneducation.com Customer Service, Toll free: (800) 462-6420, custserv@rowman.com

    Total Teaching: Your Passion Makes It Happen
    By Dr. Tom Staszewski

    From the first-year teacher to the most experienced veteran, this book will provide an inspiring message that yes, indeed…teaching is the most noble profession. It serves as an acknowledgement of the importance of teachers and recognizes that ‘teaching is the profession that has created all other professions.’ This book provides real-life tools, tips and strategies to have a successful school year and to persevere beyond the challenges associated with the profession. This inspiring book is filled with insightful and meaningful stories and examples, it provides a motivational pep talk to help teachers stay focused, to succeed in the classroom, to maintain the passion that brought them into the profession and develop a plan to be the best that they can be!

    As featured in http://www.teacherscount.org TeachersCount is working to create a permanent culture of teacher appreciation in the United States.
    Total Teaching: Your Passion Makes It Happen, By Tom Staszewski, Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Education Available for purchase on Barnes and Noble.com or http://www.rowmaneducation.com

    Teaching standards have risen and so have teacher stress levels. The pressure imposed on teachers by administrators, parents, and students, often creates feelings of teacher self-doubt. Luckily, Total Teaching by Tom Staszewski offers those in this much beleaguered profession both guidance and inspiration.
    Offering constructive advice and teaching tools, Total Teaching provides readers with a source of hope. Staszewski provides tips and proven strategies for success that are applicable both inside and outside the classroom. If you are looking for a gift for a special teacher, or looking to purchase a bit of personal inspiration, TOTAL TEACHING will help shine some light at the end of your tunnel.

    Frequently asked questions about Total Teaching…Your Passion Makes it Happen,
    written by Dr. Tom Staszewski, tomstasz@neo.rr.com

    What prompted you to write the book?

    In this era of policy change and educational reform at the K-12 level, suddenly “everybody” has become an expert on our school systems. In my opinion, there is a great amount of unjustified criticism that is unfairly being leveled against our schools and our teachers. Most of the criticism is unfounded, baseless, undeserved and distorted. Many critics of our school systems have never set foot in a classroom to see what’s going on —other than their own experience as a former student—and their criticism is erroneous and counterproductive. If they (critics) would take the time to better understand just how hard the teaching profession really is, they would change their criticism to face the reality of today’s schools and society at large. I believe that most critics would find it difficult to even make it through even one day in the life of a typical teacher. The essence behind the book is that today’s teachers are under a lot of pressure and scrutiny and there is a need for more support, recognition and appreciation for the good that they are providing for society. So the point of my book is to inform the uninformed about how difficult it is to teach in many of today’s schools. And to provide recognition to educators and to thank teachers for the positive difference they are making in society. I’ve always said that our schools are a reflection of society and society at large has changed and undergone a dramatic shift from previous generations. The book also focuses on the success stories and “what’s right” with our schools rather than “what’s wrong” with our schools. Unlike previous generations…in many homes today, whether it be a single parent household or with both parents home…many parents send their kids to school unfed, unprepared and with little or no basic skills and often with no social skills, etc.

    In my previous work as a motivational speaker and professional development trainer, I have personally worked with thousands and thousands of teachers statewide and nationwide and I have found them to be hard-working, dedicated, industrious and committed to the success of their students. It’s about time that someone has taken a stand to recognize and acknowledge the value to society that teachers are providing and to thank them for their dedication.

    What is the theme of the book?

    In addition to thanking and recognizing the good that teachers provide to society, the book is also a handbook that can be used by the teacher as a means of providing coping skills and methods to succeed in the classroom with the trials and tribulations of teaching. It provides a means of offering tips, strategies and techniques to make it through the day and to have a successful school year. In many respects it is a personal growth and development type handbook.

    From the first-year teacher to the most experienced veteran, this book provides an inspiring message that yes, indeed…teaching is the most noble profession. It serves as an acknowledgement of the importance of teachers and recognizes that “teaching is the profession that has created all other professions.” This book provides real-life tools, tips and strategies to have a successful school year and to persevere beyond all of the challenges associated with the profession. Filled with insightful and meaningful stories and examples, it will provide a pep talk to help teachers stay focused. Readers are able to maintain the passion that brought them into the profession and to develop a plan to be the best that they can be.


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