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A shout-out for all the educators

A shout-out for all the educators A shout-out for all the educators

Long before I became a journalist, I had my hopes pinned on being a professor at a university, of getting a doctorate in history. Professor Pattermann does have a nice ring to it, doesn’t it?

After I graduated from college though, the harsh reality of the real world hit me square in the face - getting a doctorate is hard, the price of higher education is absurd, and most importantly, I was broke.

The recession was also in full-swing, and though graduate school was appealing, most of the tenured professors in college treat their job like the pope - they’ll die in office before they retire.

As a result, I knew a job in higher education was out of the question. However, I did manage to find work as a private tutor. That meant that I often worked hand in hand with teachers and educators to help my wayward young students.

The topic of teaching is especially salient this week as May 4 - 8 is Teacher Appreciation Week. Although, thanks to the coronavirus, I’m willing to bet there’s plenty of parents out there at home thinking every week should be Teacher Appreciation Week.

The role of a teacher extends far beyond the task of education these days. Many of today’s teachers are coaches and active members of the community. What they do is far more than help children and young adults learn about reading, writing and arithmetic - they teach about life, how to prepare for it and what to do when things go south.

I’m fairly confident that every one, at some point in their lives, has had a teacher that was a mentor to them, maybe even saved their lives, whether they knew it at the time or not.

I had two such teachers in my life who saved mine. High school was a weird time for me, and like many teenagers, I was full of angst and frustration and confusion. Who was I? What was I supposed to be? What did I want to be?

Family life was hard, we didn’t have much, and I often wore the same clothes week in and week out. I was unhappy and wanted out.

My high school English teacher and track and cross-country coach Mr. Matthew Ostrander took me under his wing, and taught me the value of goals and of never, ever giving up on yourself. He reminded me dreams are never foolish things - they’re everything.

When I got to college, I was broke most of the time, stressed out and sleeping on a floor. Every semester was a struggle just to get by, and I often wondered what the point of it all was, if I was just going to be thousands of dollars in debt.

My history professor Sarah Thal was always there to lift my spirits, and to remind me that sometimes to get to somewhere special, you have to go through hell. She taught me about staying committed and trusting the process.

So, if you have a teacher you admire, who has helped you navigate life, reach out and say thanks. I’m sure they’d appreciate that.