For many, this is the time of year when a little cheer and appreciation is in order as state and district testing looms on the horizon, students with colds consume a year’s supply of tissue in a week, and a couple of nice days rekindle memories of summer…only to have rain and snow squelch it.
We have the job of moving America’s youth forward while inculcating values and providing a civilizing force for a society. And yet education is used as the scapegoat for a myriad of problems and is the first place politicians look to cut budgets. A summer seldom passes when we are not told how lucky we are not to have to work, and bite our tongue so we don’t respond that we are off because we aren’t being paid.
On occasion we face parents who can’t face their children, and we are accused of all manner of obstructions to their child’s progress. And we go home, cross off another day from the school calendar, and spend another sleepless night wondering if we chose the right profession.
No doubt touching the future requires a your-reach-should-exceed-one’s-grasp mentality, and perhaps some of it is our fault. For as teachers, our greatest failing may well be the fact that we don’t share our successes with the general public. But the reality is that even though education is the queen of the sciences, it doesn’t seem to appeal to those seeking the limelight.
Ours is a profession of care givers, doers and lifelong learners who treasure letters from past students and spend countless hours shopping for things for the classroom, knowing full well they are not going to be repaid.
It is a profession for those who put others first, and would wish for nothing more than to have every student be successful.
For example, school promotions are designed to honor the students and parent while publically acknowledging the passing of a rite of passage. In reality it is a silent salute to all those teachers who have taught the diploma recipients until this goal was reached. Such great accomplishments for the educator should come with a great reward. The problem is that no one has really defined what reward. It certainly is not monetary and, sadly, in many communities it isn’t even status. For a teacher, rewards are more intrinsic: the joy of listening to an entire class burst out laughing at a joke or the small smile from a youngster when told, “good job." Teachers don’t put a price on that, but as the commercial says, these rewards are priceless.
So with the winter doldrums nearly behind us and the deadline for income tax filing weeks away, what better time is there to share some great stories about teachers that gently remind all of us why we made the sacrifices to become educators? And there are cartoon links, too.
Alan Haskvitz teaches at Suzanne Middle School in Walnut, Calif., and makes staff development presentations nationwide. In addition, he serves as an audio-visual evaluator and design consultant for his county department of education; a tutor to multi-cultural students in English and art; and an Internet consultant.
Haskvitz's career spans more than 20 years. He has taught every grade level and core subject, has been recognized repeatedly for innovative teaching and has received the following honors, among many:
USA Today All Star Teacher
100 Most Influential Educators
Reader's Digest Hero in Education
Learning Magazine's Professional Best
National Middle Level Teacher of the Year
National Exemplary Teacher
Christa McAuliffe National Award
Robert Cherry International Award for Great Teachers
In addition, Haskvitz publishes articles on successful educational practices and speaks at conferences. He has served on seven national committees and boards.
Haskvitz maintains credentials and training in special and gifted education, history, administration, bilingual education, journalism, English, social studies, art, business, computers, museumology and Asian studies. He holds these credentials for Canada, New York and California. His experience also includes staff development, gifted curriculum design, administration, community relations and motivation. His background includes 10 years of university education.
As a teacher, Haskvitz's curriculum increased CAP/CLAS test scores from the 22nd percentile to the 94th percentile, the largest gain in California history. In addition, Haskvitz and his students work continuously to improve their school and community. His students' work is often selected for awards in competitions in several subject areas. For more details about Alan and his students' work, visit his page on the Educational Cyber Playground.