Remindful Lessons from Teachers

Education

BY JENNIFER VIGNE SRQ DAILY SATURDAY PERSPECTIVES EDITION SATURDAY APR 15, 2017

The Education Foundation of Sarasota County this past week hosted the 2017 Teacher of the Year luncheon in partnership with Sarasota County Schools. It was inspiring to witness educators, donors, business leaders and administrators united in celebrating the value of teachers. One expects this annual event to be filled with excitement, but what struck me was the undeniable atmosphere of respect and deep admiration. Everyone in the room recalled a personal and powerful memory of the teacher who made a difference as they watched the award presentations and listened to statements from past winners. It was outgoing Teacher of the Year, Booker High’s Khea Davis, who made me take note of the meaningful, teachable lessons we could learn from this collective group of professionals.

Teachers have a voice outside the classroom. As the respected professionals that they are, teachers are in an enviable position to educate the community and instruct our legislative representatives on issues they are facing, providing innovative ideas from the front line on how challenges can be addressed. Khea Davis inspired us with her passion to “help her babies” by encouraging us to expand these important conversations beyond the school walls.

Teaching is a calling. The United States is facing a teacher shortage and within the field some become discouraged for reasons that may include funding concerns and mandated assessments. Yet, when listening to the compelling backstory of Teacher of the Year for Middle Schools Chris Braun, I learned her heart was in teaching long before she ever stepped into the classroom. She overcame obstacles and persevered in her own educational pursuits to become a teacher. A self-described “late bloomer,” Chris has unmistakably impacted hundreds of students with her selfless dedication.

Teachers are a force of influence. Jerusha Connor, an education professor at Villanova University, states that “ample qualitative research shows that a single teacher can shape the course of a young person’s future, for better or worse.” When Riverview High School’s BJ Ivey accepted the award as the 2017 Sarasota County Teacher of the Year, he commented “teachers have the opportunity to inspire new young men and women that we reach every day.” Watching the videos of testimonials from students from elementary to high school, it was easy to see the impressionable impact teachers are making daily.

The Education Foundation is honored to amplify the volume to elevate the valuable role teachers play in our community and grateful to be reminded of such noteworthy lessons.

Jennifer Vigne is executive director of the Education Foundation of Sarasota County.

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