In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, the Coffee County Education Association wants to thank all public school teachers for following your passions and doing incredible work educating America's youth. As an association composed entirely of teachers, we see your successes and breakthroughs every day because we're right there with you. We truly admire and applaud all of the amazing education professionals who do such an amazing and difficult job.
As teachers, we are in it for both the income and the outcome. Educating young people is too important and too stressful of a task to do for free; unfortunately, many of us seek out and find additional jobs to help make ends meet, to put money away for our retirement, or to help pay for our own children’s college education. I am one of those teachers. In addition to improving my curriculum during the summer, I work at a swimming pool store in Murfreesboro, and I also seek out additional side jobs that bring in extra money. For most of us, the idea of taking the summers off is a myth that never comes to fruition.
Sometimes, teachers happen to work in a county that strongly supports and appreciates public education. Dickson County’s school board has proposed giving them a 10% raise, which will make them competitive with Montgomery and Williamson Counties. The chair of the Dickson County School board was recently quoted as saying, “I think that it’s important to the success of our school system and important to the future of the children in our county that we pay our educators competitively and commensurate to their value in our community.” I look forward to a time when every county comes to the same conclusion.
When benefits are factored into the equation, Coffee County does a reasonably good job of paying its teachers. The county recently learned that their federal Title I funds were going to be drastically reduced. The Coffee County School Board, along with South Central Region Superintendent of the Year, Dr. LaDonna McFall, worked very hard to protect as many teaching positions as possible while maintaining teachers’ yearly step raises and budgeting for a 2% raise for all staff, including teachers.
While paying teachers adequately is crucially important for any society that wishes to thrive in the future, at the end of each school day, public school teachers across the country have worked miracles. We are preparing students for a job market that doesn’t even exist yet and will certainly look substantially different from today’s landscape. We push our students to learn more information, more quickly and efficiently, than any of the students who came before them. Most importantly, we instill hope in our students that they can accomplish anything that they set their minds to achieve. The next Nobel Prize Winner, the next scientist who will discover a cure for a disease that hasn’t afflicted us yet, and the next President of the United States is sitting in someone’s classroom right now. Inspiring students to achieve greatness is profoundly more important to educators than the results of the most recent iteration of the state’s standardized test.
As president of the Coffee County Education Association, I am humbled and privileged to lead a group of dedicated professionals who give everything they have, each and every day. I want to thank my colleagues and friends for the thankless work you do. Your contribution is not going unnoticed. It’s unfortunate that Teacher Appreciation Week lasts for only one week toward the end of the school year. But then, we don’t enter this profession for the recognition; we do what we do because we are leaders, and we choose to make a difference in the lives of young people.