Teachers go above and beyond

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By Zac Oakes


I’m a little later to the game than many other columnists around the state, but I wanted to take an opportunity to chime in on Kentucky Gov. Matt Bevin’s comments made on 99.9 The Big Dawg last week.

Let’s be clear about one thing here: Gov. Bevin’s comments were absolutely out of line, and teachers have every right to be upset about what was said. I’m not even a teacher and was disappointed in what I heard.

I don’t have as much of a grasp on the pension situation as our teachers and lawmakers do. That’s simply because I am not either of those things. However, in having conversations with highly educated and knowledgeable people in both groups, I know that the situation is not an easy one to deal with, and it’s a very sensitive topic. That being said, I am not going to use this space to waste ink on my proposal to fix the problem… because I don’t have a solution that makes everyone happy.

However, what I wanted to express was my gratitude for those individuals who step into the classroom every day.

I remain in contact with many teachers that I had throughout my time in my education, and I’m not sure I have ever seen anything rally teachers from every kind of background together the way Bevin’s comments did.

Most people can agree that teachers are an integral part of any community. In communities like Campbellsville and all around Kentucky — particularly smaller communities — teachers are community leaders.

In towns like these, teachers are held in high esteem, and deservedly so. In towns like these, everyone either is a teacher, they have a teacher in their family, or they are very good friends with a teacher.

In towns like these, schools are one of the major economic engines of the community, they are one of the largest employers, and they play a vital role in day-to-day life in the community.

Talk to any teacher and you’ll realize they didn’t get into that profession for the money. For the amount of time they have to go to school themselves to be certified to teach, there are much higher-paying jobs available that many teachers could do instead. Still, they go into the classroom.

It’s certainly not a glamorous job. They have to deal with parents who sometimes can go a little bit overboard, they have to deal with ever-changing curriculum standards and new regulations, and other not-so-lovely aspects of their jobs.

But they do it because they love what they do, and they love their students, and they love their schools.

Teaching isn’t for everybody. It takes a special type of person; a person that truly loves children and wants to see them grow, succeed, and reach their potential. It takes someone who doesn’t care to take the extra steps to reach out to a child who is struggling and find out what’s going on, then do whatever they can to make it better. It takes someone who is willing to find a way to make a difference in their students’ lives.

As I reflect back on my experiences in school growing up, I begin to think about all the teachers that shaped me into the person I am today.

I had an English teacher my sophomore and junior years of high school who taught me a whole lot more about life than I ever learned about literature. He challenged me to think critically and open my mind to different perspectives. I had a chemistry teacher who challenged me to examine my beliefs on a much deeper level. I think about my first-grade teacher who only had me in class for three days before I was advanced to second grade, but still reaches out to talk to me and catch up on what I’m doing every time she sees me. I think about a couple teachers I had in late elementary school that found a way to make class fun at an age where a pre-teen boy couldn’t care less about sitting in a classroom for 45 minutes.

I remember the teachers whom you could walk into their classroom during their planning period, a time for themselves, and just sit down to talk about whatever was on your mind, good, bad, or ugly. Sometimes they would have seven or eight students in the room during that time just talking about the stress of college applications or finding a roommate or deciding on a major, or even the struggles they faced at home.

And I remember the teachers who took money from their own pockets to make sure their students were taken care of, however they needed to be taken care of. I remember teachers taking money from their own pockets to purchase fundraiser items for students. I remember teachers funding many parts of their classrooms.

Teachers like these are the ones who make lasting impacts on the children in this town, in this state, and in this country. They leave lasting impressions on students that stick with them for a lifetime and absolutely make a difference.

I could come up with a lot of words to describe teachers, but selfish isn’t one of them, and it is very disappointing that the governor expressed that sentiment on the airwaves.