A Time to Celebrate Teachers Who Give Every Day

Guest Correspondence

BY JENNIFER VIGNE SRQ DAILY SATURDAY PERSPECTIVES EDITION SATURDAY DEC 7, 2019

We believe a vibrant and prosperous community is dependent upon the value its members place on high quality education.

And it’s evident our community cares. A lot.

From our vantage point at the Education Foundation of Sarasota County, we have seen this value demonstrated in good and bad times.

We have celebrated the successful passage of a tax referendum, community collaborations to improve student outcomes, and myriad student scholarships provided by private donors and organizations.

We’ve also witnessed times when difficult situations call for tough decisions, and concerned citizens persuasively defend their positions and demand action.

In all cases, the forces of energy that advocate on behalf of education are vigorous, potent and powerful.

Now it is time to redirect and channel this energy in support of our teachers.

The Education Foundation of Sarasota County is privileged to showcase teachers when we host the annual Sarasota County Teacher of the Year celebration.

Teachers are everyday heroes who show up, day in and day out, for students. No matter what is happening internally in the district or externally in the community, teachers are present to give their best. 

They show up and turn down the volume of loud, sometimes contentious discourse to keep focused on what’s most important--educating our youth.

They show up on campuses to instruct, listen, coach, guide, inspire. They show up at school games, plays, concerts, parent-teacher meetings. They open their classrooms at off hours and their hearts at all hours to tutor, mentor, advocate. 

Sometimes a steady teacher is the one reliable adult a struggling student can count on for balance amid life’s noisy intrusions.

Teachers who daily invest themselves to this degree can get depleted. They find replenishment in relationships and connections—with families, their community, fellow teachers and students.

In fact, this year’s finalists for Teacher of the Year expressed a bedrock belief that a teacher must be present and engaged for students to learn.

Marissa Dobbert, 2020 Middle School Teacher of the Year, gave an example: “A student from an unstable, harsh home life came to class angry, aggressive, and often disruptive. I saw his potential and was able to help him realize he was a natural leader who was heading in the wrong direction, and it was within his power to become a leader going in the right direction. We have to be alert to opportunities to redirect.”

In the words of Heather Young, 2020 Elementary Teacher of the Year: “You show up every day and don’t ever give up on them even if they want to give up on themselves.”

A student’s words underscored the impact made by Josh Grant, 2020 High School Teacher of the Year: “I had a tough sophomore year, and when I needed guidance he was there to listen without judgment and helped me get the resources I needed. Mr. Grant is trustworthy, opens our eyes to the bigger picture, pushes us to work to achieve the highest possible outcome, and will go out of his way to help a student in need.”

These teachers represent the consistently high caliber of our 2,500-plus teachers who have earned Sarasota County a reputation as an A-rated school district and a vibrant place for young families to raise their children.

If you are unable to attend our December 11 Teacher of the Year celebration, please send a note of encouragement or gratitude to our teachers by email to info@EdFoundationSRQ.org. I will see that your supportive message is shared.  

Let’s take this opportunity to lift a strong, united community voice in appreciation for teachers who show up for our community every day.

Jennifer Vigne is president of the Education Foundation of Sarasota County

Photos courtesy Education Foundation: Marissa Dobbert, Josh Grant, Heather Young.

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