Inside the Supt's Office
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Inside the Supt's Office

May 2018

With National Teacher Appreciation Week approaching, I reflected on what it means to be a teacher. This particular definition resonates with me:
 
Teacher (tee-cher) n. 1) Provider of knowledge and insight. 2) Mentor. 3) One who inspires, motivates and opens up minds to the endless possibilities of which one can achieve. 4) One who makes a positive difference in the lives of many. 5) One who is admired, appreciated and held in the highest esteem. 

These are the roles played by the best teachers in my life. The teachers who left an imprint on me are the ones who sometimes believed in me more than I believed in myself.
 
How could they do that? They took the time to connect with me, to build a relationship with me. As adults, they could see possibilities in me that I, as a student, didn’t yet know existed.
 
At some point in our lives, we are all teachers. Parents and guardians are, of course, a child’s first teacher – a literal fact for me because my mom also served as my kindergarten teacher. Others of us teach at our places of worship, serve as youth mentors, or teach a craft. Almost everyone “teaches.”
 
Not everyone, however, is a professional teacher like the more than 3,000 educators who serve MPS students. Yes, it’s true some students are taught to read by their parents and caregivers. But for thousands of others, learning to read takes careful guidance by a professional who understands how students hear words, how they pronounce them, how they comprehend and decode them; people who can guide learners in vocabulary, comprehension and so many other elements of successful reading.
 
Over and above that, teachers must be experts in motivating their students, in lighting the spark of learning.
 
That’s where relationships are key. A teacher must make the time in an already full schedule to discover something unique about each student. In doing so, they are able to better understand what that child can accomplish and hold them to the highest of expectations. Teachers have in their power the ability to set a child’s trajectory for this rest of his or her life. What an honor and responsibility.
 
Teachers should be thanked every single day for the contribution they make to our world. This week, I’d like to thank our MPS teachers for:

  • caring for and teaching a family’s most precious gift.
  • connecting with every student to help them feel acknowledged, valued and honored for who they are.
  • having high expectations for every student, and supporting those expectations with respect, guidance, and love.
  • helping students find and pursue their passions.
  • providing opportunities to stretch and grow young minds.

Our teachers are the heart of Minneapolis Public Schools, and we thank you for your service.