From preschool at the local YMCA straight through to law school at Mr. Jefferson’s University, my educational progression brought me under the tutelage of those that continue to leave their indelible marks upon my life. Ms. DePirro, Mrs. Cline, Miss Caligiari, Mrs. Umeck, Dr. Reeves, Coach Crooks, Professor Magilligan, Professor Sneddon, Professor Krause, Professor Cannon, Andrew Block; I can see their faces and hear their words, just as clearly as if I was still sitting in their respective classrooms. Their passion, their wisdom, their efforts supplemented the love and instruction of my parents and grandparents to make me the attorney, man, father, friend, and educator that I am today.
I loved school, its challenges, its mysteries, its quests, even its busywork. At many points along my journey, I daydreamed of becoming a third-grade teacher. Now coincidentally the parent of a third-grader during the most bizarre academic year in a century, I am quite sure that I would struggle to survive a week in that role. I have never underestimated the ardor inherent in being an educator, not even when I was a young smartass convinced of the folly of my instructors. But, as with everything these days, the world’s teachers are now operating on an entirely different plane of ludicrousness.
I lack the vocabulary to describe the admiration that I have for Violet’s teachers, for the staff of Edwards Elementary School, for the after-school program mentors at the Homestead Court Club. For me to be at a loss for words is quite a rare occurrence, but I am humbled by their dedication, their patience, their flexibility, their strength. Violet is at perhaps one of the most formative periods of her life, having gone through some significant personal travails in the past year, in addition to the obvious uncertainty of pandemic living. She could easily be subsumed by these circumstances, but instead thrives as a direct result of those dear souls that support her.
Violet speaks with reverence of Mrs. Sayra and Mrs. Daly and I see the fruits of their labor in her burgeoning Spanish, in her math skills, in her zeal for ingesting and creating stories. Her teachers tend to their own young families, wake at ungodly hours, adapt on a weekly basis to a yet-another new reality, and still manage to keep their enthusiasm undiminished. Bolstered by a team, fronted by Mr. A, that risks their personal health and sanity to allow the school to function, I view the entire operation as a collection of superheroes, a kind of Avengers of Edwards.
When Violet leaves the grounds of EES, her day often continues under the creative, joyful, steady, and loving attentions of Ms. Jillian and Miss Kaylee. Enrichment programs the world over may tout their bona fides, their prestigious alumni, and their proprietary methods ad nauseum, but I would stack Jillian’s nook at Homestead against any of them. I could not imagine a more safe, powerful, or happy place for Violet to spend her afternoons. Particularly in this fraught time, Jillian and Kaylee have offered an irreplaceable haven for Violet and her compadres.
These women and men, and their ilk across the country and globe, enter into the profession knowing that it will be thankless. In short order, they realize that their efforts are rewarded even less than expected, both in kudos and in ducats. And yet they press on each day, for decades on end, a testament to their true calling.
Realizing the worth of our teachers is only the first step; now it is time for us to put our money where our mouths are. The 2022 ballot is not far off; hopefully we can raise more funds to support those that will impact our children as our teachers defined our lives.