“Who you are and what you do matter. It matters to the children you teach, to their families, and to the community. Thank you for what you do. Today, you can see that teachers matter. Remember that.”
Strange words, perhaps, for a grieving family member to say to a number of teachers at the wake of a colleague, but really, not at all surprising.
It has been a tough year–the most difficult of my career. Some days are difficult, surrounded by negativity. And yet, we continue to defend Public Education. We fight for ourselves, for the students, and for the community-at-large. We know Public Education is worth it!
Recently, I attended a wake for a young teacher I knew. She taught for about ten years, while fighting a public battle with her health. She went to work, did her job with excellence, and then went home to her family at night. She was not a high profile public figure, or a fancy TV personality. She was a math teacher, loved and respected by staff and students alike.
I was amazed by the turnout. Despite the fact that we were in the largest room, people were packed in, wall-to-wall, front-to-back, and winding out into the hall. We most certainly broke the fire code as family, friends, colleagues, students, and their parents stood in line to greet her husband.
I overheard a woman speak to him: “I didn’t know your wife. But my son is away at university, out of town, and asked me to come to pay respects. He struggled in math, but your wife always supported him and told him he could do it.”
It’s a story that replayed itself over and over from a multitude of students and parents: colleagues with stories of the good times.
Strangely, I did not hear one person talk about meetings, lunch and learns, paperwork, test scores, or EQAO.
These things really do not matter when recalling the impact of a person’s life. What matters is how this teacher touched so many lives and made a difference.
And then it hit me. We all impact the lives of others as the stories of our lives intertwine. We make a positive impact on kids, colleagues, and the community. The Public Sector has a huge impact on the community. People do remember who we are and how we make them feel. How we impact their lives in a positive way.
So, forget about Bill 115, the negative media, and the internet trolls bashing teachers for a moment.
Think about who you are and how what you do matters. Keep fighting for Public Education and Public Services. We’d be lost without them.
You’ll be greatly missed by many, Rene. It was an honour to know you.
|Terri Lynn Platt