Sunday, February 8, 2015

What Legacy Will You Leave?

This weekend I had the privilege of joining about 200 other educators from around South Dakota at the Joint South Dakota Science Teachers Association & South Dakota Council of Teachers of Mathematics annual conference.  At the banquet, we heard retired teacher Bill Zubke ( give his talk entitled, “Laugh, Learn, Love, and Leave a Legacy.”  His speech was entertaining and enlightening—and made me think.

I attend the science and math teachers’ conference every year and this is my favorite part: the conversations with the teachers.  Many of the conversations this weekend were about the teacher shortage and teacher pay.  We hope that the Blue Ribbon panel on education proposed by the governor can make a difference in the education climate in this state.

The conference attendees include pre-service teachers, first-year teachers, veteran teachers, and retired teachers.  They come to the conference to learn new things, discuss new ideas, and become better teachers.  They are true professionals in every sense of the word.

Where would our world be without the work of K-12 teachers?  What would happen to our children?  When you truly think about what our teachers do for our children every day, they should be the highest paid of all professions.  They are there to wipe our kids’ tears, tie their shoes, judge their science fair projects, or help them solve a quadratic equation.  Have you ever considered what would be listed on a job description of an elementary teacher, a science teacher, or a math teacher?  If the pay wasn’t enough to discourage someone from entering the profession, the job description certainly would be.

Yet the educators at the conference do their jobs every day, take work home, and then get up and go back the next day.  They often spend their evenings coaching or attending activities.  And what do they ‘produce’?  They ‘produce’ people—the most important of all resources.  These educators are leaving a legacy.  They will leave a legacy that can be matched by no other profession.

Please think about what you can do to help improve education in South Dakota.  Talk to your legislators and school board members.  Become an advocate for education--it is the key to the future of our state.  And most importantly, remember to thank a teacher!