I'm pretty sure you can ask anyone who has been through grade school, and they will be able to tell you about a teacher who made a positive impact on their life.
Teachers are not given the credit they deserve. They are more than just educators--and even then, why are we not thanking the people who teach our children? They are more than just brief parts of a child's life. A teacher can be a friend, a leader, a protector, and a lifelong influence.
There's more to being a teacher than meets the eye.
Their jobs do not start and end with the school day, as a lot of other 9-5 jobs do. Their job starts when they wake up early in the morning so they can be in the classroom, getting things ready for the day. Their job ends late at night, once they've finished grading all of their papers and making lesson plans for the next day.
Everyone jokes about how little teachers make, and that just speaks to the heart teachers have. Even in spite of their classically low salaries, many teachers go above and beyond to help their students, including using their own limited income to their students' benefit. They buy decorations for their classrooms. Many buy supplies for the less fortunate children, and many others keep extra food in their rooms for any children who don't have access to food at home. I've read some stories about teachers who even buy their students clothes when they can't afford clean/new ones, to avoid being excluded or bullied by their peers.
Teachers are also protectors. We underestimate the investment they make in each of their students. There is a heartbreaking number of stories online of teachers who have taken a child's wellbeing into their own hands, calling CPS when they think the child is in danger at home and extending their helping hands outside of school hours to keep the child afloat. Teachers see everything. They see when a child is struggling, at home or in school, and they make efforts to help.
There are certainly some unkind teachers out there, don't get me wrong. But nearly every teacher I've ever encountered became a teacher for no reason other than the pure desire to help children learn and excel. That's an honorable task to take on and by no means an easy one.
I had so many wonderful teachers throughout grade school that are living proof of the impact a teacher can have on a child. Many might think I've forgotten about them and what they did for me, but I haven't. My kindergarten assistant teacher loved me and made kindergarten an easy transition for an otherwise shy little girl. My second-grade teacher was a friend to me even after I left her class; we wrote letters back and forth all summer, and I still have them to this day. When I had anxiety problems in fourth and fifth grade, my guidance counselor let me eat lunch in her classroom.
My sixth-grade homeroom teacher told me at the end of the year not to let the other kids corrupt me, the quiet girl with no friends and crooked glasses who read books every morning amongst my considerably rowdier classmates. My freshman year English teacher, and later my senior year AP seminar supervisor, listened to all of my problems and gave me some of the best advice (even if I didn't listen – I still appreciated it).
My boyfriend's mother and my best friend's mother are both teachers. I see the effort and the love they put into their work, even outside of the classroom.
So to all of the teachers out there who may feel invisible or insignificant – you are truly doing God's work, and many of us know that. You make an impact on every child who passes through your classroom. From a woman who has been shaped by the hands of her many teachers, from the bottom of my heart... thank you for everything you do. You don't hear that enough.