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They're Worth So Much More

For many local schools, today is the last day in session before Summer Break. This is the time of year when everyone is preparing to either deliver or listen to graduation speeches, but after volunteering alongside some teachers for a few consecutive field days, it occurred to that I have some end-of-the year things to say, too. Not to the students – I’ll leave that to someone else – but as a mom to a half dozen little people, I think I owe an ode to the teachers.

They’re worth so much more than we give them credit for.

Kids get awards, stickers, and trophies, but what about the teachers? If we tried, they’d hide, I know. Even so, they are the ones who have poured blood, sweat, tears, and every last penny from their own pockets into making every last child entrusted to them the very best he or she can possibly be. No expense has been spared, no sacrifice withheld. When those yellow buses pull out this afternoon, every emotion under the sun will be found in those empty tile hallways sprinkled with tired teachers.

Those men and women will fear for the babies who won’t have enough food over Summer. They will wonder if they have done enough, if there was something else they could do, if any glimmer of all their hard work will even show when August rolls around. They will jolt awake in the middle of the hot summer nights and wonder if Johnny is safe or Susie is cool enough. They know – because they have seen – how much life will happen between the dismissal bell and the first one that chimes when a new year begins.

When you encounter these creatures this Summer, they may be disguised as relaxed women wearing sunglasses and reading leisurely by the pool. They may appear as the moms and dads who have all the time in the world while they try their very best to squeeze every moment out of the time they’re given with their own children before it’s time to throw themselves back into fighting for yours again.

They’re worth so much more than we give them credit for.

Do not be fooled. A good teacher’s work is never done. Her mind never stops spinning as she brainstorms and begs God for ways to reach the ones slipping through the cracks, to challenge the ones who cannot stay awake after living through who knows what the night before, to spark a fire in the little hearts that appear to have gone dark long before their time. They stop at nothing to create magical places where goals are reached and hurts are forgotten. Every day is a new adventure, every lesson a new production, every milestone celebrated with the gusto of a Disney World parade. And there’s a real good chance you can find those teachers right there in the same empty hallways in the middle of June as you’ll leave them in today.

Teaching is a ministry, whether or not the certified professional has any knowledge of his Creator or not. To devote one’s life to equipping the next generation to be greater than the one that came before is a selfless pursuit. It makes no sense to the world to settle for the salary they do. I challenge you to look a little deeper this Summer. Look beyond the schedule on the school web site. Pay attention to the eyes of the teachers that would lay down their lives for your children – in January or July. They’re tired. They need a minute. They’ve earned an all-expense paid vacation to paradise, but they’re settling for a two-month planning period.

They’re worth so much more.

So many folks want to ask where God is and why He isn’t showing up in this broken world, but I challenge you to look no further than the classroom teachers in your life to convince yourselves He is absolutely already there. The ones disguised as teachers are the real, God-given heroes here. They’re the ones on the front lines investing in the only ones who will change the whole wide world. The only people who can set the world on fire tomorrow are the little ones swinging on the playground today and God knows it. Their teachers might not be allowed to say His name, but they are His hands and feet in the trenches of our schools every single day.

Thank a teacher today and think twice before you say how nice it must be to have all Summer to play…. There’s more than meets the eye here. It’s what you can’t see that just might change your world one day. It’s what goes on behind the scenes behind the doors of classrooms and inside the hearts of little people learning to dream and preparing to sing that make this world the beautiful place it is.

From the doctor in your father’s operating room to the builder designing your dream home, to the mechanic hidden beneath the floor ensuring the safety of your family’s vehicle to the chef preparing your meals behind the scenes, every person you meet has a story to tell about a teacher who showed them how to believe they could be who they were made to be.

Teachers will never tell you any of this themselves and they’ll shy away when you thank them or give back in any way. Do it anyway. Do it today. Do it your way. Thank them in the car rider line, buy their coffee in the Starbucks line, remember their families in your prayers and their names when you see them in the grocery store. Remind them today that they’re worth so much more than we give them credit for.


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