By Jennifer Lauria
Wagner College News Service
As spring begins to blossom it seems fitting to take a moment to reflect on the remarkable impact our nation’s teachers continually have on the growth and development of our society. This year’s National Teachers Day observance on May 3 provides an ideal opportunity to honor the very special people who choose to take on the challenge of educating students of all ages and dedicate themselves to the betterment of others by helping learners realize their true potential.
While I am eternally grateful to those extraordinary teachers who have touched my soul throughout my life, at the same time I am truly honored to be an educator myself. The privilege of being able to inspire others and help foster a lifelong love of learning has been a blessing in my life, which has brought me immense joy. Experiencing the journey of discovery along with my students and witnessing the fascinating transformations as they achieve success, begin to believe in themselves, and start to value their own worth as unique individuals has been rewarding beyond measure.
Great teachers bestow invaluable gifts upon their students: lessons upon which to build their lives. They provide stepping stones of knowledge and inquiry, spark the magic of discovery, encourage students to believe that success is within reach, foster courage to take risks, help students learn from mistakes and view perceived failures as opportunities for growth, guide learners to develop the determination to persevere and to stand by their principles even when terrified to do so, inspire conviction for learners to follow their dreams with passion in their hearts, model the need to strive for excellence and the worth of effort and determination, and teach students to value differences in others by taking the time to learn about them rather than fearing what they don’t understand — just to name a few!
A great teacher can inspire the spark that ignites a lifelong passion for learning and an insatiable appetite for knowledge that makes learning a marvelous adventure. Perhaps most importantly, teachers lead by example and demonstrate respect, empathy, compassion and patience toward others — some of the very characteristics we hope our nation’s citizens and leaders will evidence.
Our schooling serves as a dress rehearsal for life beyond the classroom. Those we remember as special teachers are cherished just as much for the type of people they were as for the concepts they taught us. Teachers, along with families and loved ones, help learners feel valuable and create opportunities for students to realize that we all need one another. They do this by exemplifying how much we can do on our own — and how much more we can do together.
In honor of National Teachers Day, we appreciate those who so proudly embody the noble title of teacher, and make such remarkable contributions to our global society. An extraordinary teacher can change lives, and thus change the world. Teachers give students the greatest gift of all: the ability to believe in themselves and to value the special gifts they possess, for which they deserve incredible gratitude.
Dr. Jennifer Lauria is an associate professor and coordinator of undergraduate programs for the Department of Education at Wagner College, a U.S. News & World Report Top 25 regional university on Staten Island in New York City.
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