By Zel Fowler, M.A.
Arizona Alliance of Black School Educators
This is a time of year in education where gratitude for teachers is something that is a ritual. For one week, the world says “thank you” to teachers—and then keeps on moving.
Teaching is an unbalanced act; in one breath, we are being thanked and, in another, the system we support appears to be cracking and failing our children. We aren’t here for the money, that’s for sure. During a time when budgets are being sliced and the show must go on, we are in need of a deeper word than “appreciation” for our underpaid lifestyle.
To appreciate my colleagues is something that is not as simple as delegating a specific day or week—it is monumental recognition. I appreciate the advocates that fill up our classrooms, the ones that speak out. Teachers who see something wrong and have what it takes to create change. The ones who make a difference in a child’s life, who stand up from behind their desks and stretch beyond the curriculum. Teachers who are not settled in doing what is said, but strive to do what is right for students.
For some of us, we are the creators of communities where unique individuals live, seven to eight hours a day, five days a week. We are facilitators of curriculum that isn’t necessarily set up for all of our individuals and a testing protocol that, in some cases, seems to do more harm than good.
Our communities are not one size fits all. In order to make sure that all children succeed, we must fill in the gaps.
With that said, let’s celebrate the advocates and the creators in the classrooms. The ones who are the example of the change laid out by our forefathers. Just as no students should be left behind, no teachers should teach behind. The teachers making a difference, and who see each child’s unique gifts and talents and provide the necessary support for their successes, deserve more than wages being raised; they deserve for their voices to be heard.
Teachers are not appreciated because of a title; they are appreciated for the things they do to make this world a better place.
More About Zel:
Zel is an elementary school teacher who specializes in gifted education. She has taught for 10 years in the Roosevelt School District, and is recognized for her unique teaching style that creates partnerships and enhances student achievement. Zel is the president/CEO of the Arizona Alliance of Black School Educators and founder of Arizona’s STEAM Enrichment Program (a collaborative initiative that engages students in the areas of science, technology, engineering, the arts and mathematics). She serves on the Arizona State Legislature African American Leadership Council and the Student Involvement Committee for the 2015 National Association for Gifted Children (NAGC) conference. She is a 2015 presenter at the Chicago International Conference on Education and the NAGC annual conference. She is a recipient of the State of Black Arizona’s 2015 Community Luminary award. Zel holds a master’s degree in elementary education and is currently earning her doctorate in educational leadership.
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