Giving Thanks for Teachers
November 24, 2021
Thanksgiving is no time for despair. Even though things might be dark right now — so dark that optimism feels almost offensive — there is always room for hope.
Your students might have suffered trauma. Your families — maybe your very own family — might have endured heartbreak and loss. You might be struggling to find your way in a world that seems all wrong.
And yet there is value in hope. The idea of Thanksgiving retains its power — perhaps, that power is made greater in the face of challenges.
Although the challenges we face are profound, I remain hopeful. I feel this way in no small part because of the work I see from educators across the country and around the world. There is no job with greater impact or deeper meaning. The teachers I see are making a difference, perhaps more than they even know. So I thought I’d highlight a few of them here, to remind them that they matter and to share with you a little something to be thankful for.
Capital Preparatory Academy, Tallahassee, Florida
Dee is the principal of an incredible group of educators who I was privileged to meet this week. I was thoroughly impressed with the culture he has helped develop, and with his passion for impacting the lives of his students. He’s about to embark on a very hopeful sort of project. It’s a project where he shows his students how evil can be overcome by good.
The students at his school will be challenged to be lights to their community, and to collect their acts of kindness in an electronic jar that they can share with the world to inspire others. They’ll challenge their friends and family members to add their own random acts of kindness to the jar — then, they’ll work to make their jar go viral. Their vision is to inspire thousands of acts of kindness that make the world a better place in a clear, powerful way. Stay tuned to this blog — we’ll share Dee’s Jar soon!
Crossroads Academy, Big Rapids, Michigan
Doni, the Principal at Crossroads, has an incredible passion for social-emotional learning, and she’s worked with her staff to create a culture where students are nurtured and grown into young men and women of character. I was in the school recently and was struck by how kind, caring, and focused the students seemed; they weren’t perfect, but you could tell that they had teachers who cared about making their school a safe environment where curiosity, creativity, and deep critical thinking could thrive!
Stone Creek Elementary, Derby, Kansas
The staff at Stone Creek dreams big and works together to make it happen. I am inspired by the way they collaborate to develop incredible learning experiences for students. I’m particularly excited about a new project they’re developing where students will help their city become a better and stronger community.
Student groups are working with real-world experts to study their city through different lenses: housing, education, business. Students will be responsible for helping the city to develop one concrete way that it can make itself an even more “All-American City,” with two of the projects resulting in proposals for the city council. I truly am thankful for teachers who throw themselves into their work with such wholeheartedness.
The Field School, Northview, Michigan
The teachers at the Field School have put immense effort in making learning experiences authentic and meaningful. They work tirelessly to show students the beauty and fragility of Earth. They have a passion for helping students understand that we are all stewards of our environment, and they build student learning through hands-on exploration of our natural world.
Their shared values and collaborative culture allow them to really enjoy the work they do — and it shows. In the middle of a tough year, they and their students are having fun learning more about our world.
We can look at teachers accomplishing great things and despair. Sometimes, it doesn’t feel like we have the strength of energy to make that kind of impact. But here’s the thing: the odds are, YOU are already one of these teachers. You are making a difference — a bigger difference than you know. The work you’re doing is rippling out into the world right now — even as you’re reading this. There are current and former students whose lives are a little better because of the work that you’ve done.
And that’s why I’m thankful for you.