Among the programs ExxonMobil supports to promote teachers is one called America Achieves. High-potential teachers and principals participate in a two-year National Fellowship program that helps them advocate for the Common Core State Standards, promote best practices in the classroom, and share their classroom experiences with key opinion leaders and education policymakers.
London Moore, principal of a public boarding school in Baton Rouge called THRIVE, was a 2012-2013 America Achieves National Fellow. She was kind enough to share some of her experiences as an educator and observations about the important role of teachers as we observe Teacher Appreciation Week. ~Ken
While talking to students before the start of a recent school day, I asked one to tell me about his favorite moment this year.
With a big smile, the seventh-grader paused for a moment before rapidly launching into another one of the type of moments that make my job incredible.
“Ms. Moore,” he began, “that’s impossible. Every moment that I am in Mrs. Andrews’s class is my favorite moment. I hated social studies before I met her, and honestly, before I met her I hated school. She told me on Day One of her class that school was going to change for me. I remember the day that she jumped on the desk during her lesson about the Civil War was the day that I moved from the back of the class to the front.”
He took a deep breath and continued. “She made school real for me. She made me see myself not only graduating and going to college but also making an impact on the world. She has taught me that my voice is important and why it matters. History is pretty scary and pretty crazy most of the time. She has taught me that it is up to our generation to change that.”
I am lucky. In my role as a principal, I have the profound honor of watching teachers like Mrs. Andrews change the world. They give meaning to life and provide a voice for a generation. Every day, in classrooms across America, teachers work tirelessly to better the lives of our nation’s greatest resource, our children. Our teachers are the quiet heroes of our country.
To be an educator is to be the best of us all, having strengths in every area imaginable. Our teachers are our best actors and actresses, commanding the classroom stage. Teachers are our strongest analysts, using data daily to drive instruction. Our teachers are our most creative engineers, consistently crafting something from nothing. Teachers are our best motivational speakers, pushing our children to dream bigger than imaginable whether through boisterous classroom pep talks or in quiet and often teary private hallway moments.
A good teacher is a work of art, something to be admired and revered. These teachers inspire students to dream and keep high standards no matter the obstacles. They set the bar of expectations with a plan of success in mind. Countless hours are spent in classrooms teaching and tutoring, in homes planning, in communities meeting, and across cities investing. They not do accept good; they expect excellent.
The best teachers are not born; they are carefully crafted individuals who rededicate themselves daily. Some days it is harder than others, but it is always worth it.
Teachers do this great work because they understand the impact that they are making, and know what true happiness and passion look like. Teachers teach for Malik’s laugh when he gets a problem right, for Arionta’s smile when she scores the top grade on her essay, for Neychelle’s never-ending consumption of books, for Kevin’s triumph as he learns to read and for that moment when everything connects for a student and you realize that you reached them.
Take a moment today and thank a teacher. Thank them for putting in the hard work, long hours, and unwavering belief and passion into each one of their students. To be an educator is to change the world, and these extra moments of appreciation just help Mrs. Andrews, and all those educators like her, keep helping make favorite moments for our nation’s children.
London Moore is the principal of THRIVE, a public boarding school in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. She was previously a fourth-grade math and writing teacher at Park Ridge Elementary School in Louisiana, where she was honored as a Teacher of the Year. She is a fellow with America Achieves, and has also co-founded a non-profit education organization in Ghana.