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My eldest sister remembers her years teaching second grade fondly, describing it as the most rewarding segment of her career. She enjoyed her students, the inner-city neighborhood, and the faculty she worked alongside. She sacrificed her nights coaching girls’ volleyball and softball, yet for her, that was no sacrifice. It was fun. She enjoyed the time she spent after school hours with the children she grew to know and love.

However, with all positive experiences comes a bit of sadness, and some of the stories she tells are unfortunate.  There are memories of students coming into class with bruises, students who acted out, and those who wore dirty or ripped clothing each day.

As all teachers know, this comes with the territory, and as a teacher, it’s your responsibility to care for these children, protect them, and provide them with a safe and nurturing environment when they are at school.  But for most teachers, the care and compassion shown to students extends far beyond the boundaries of the classroom walls.

One year, early in her career, my sister taught a very disruptive student (as most teachers do).  After exploring the child’s behavioral issues a little deeper, she realized that the child was neglected at home. He wasn’t packed a lunch, nor fed breakfast, and he didn’t he have money to purchase food to eat. After learning this sad truth, my sister asked the child to be her special helper.  He helped her set up the classroom each morning in exchange for a bagel and some special one on one time with my sister.  At lunch, she always packed him whatever she was eating, too. Receiving this extra love and support lessened the child’s behavioral issues, and he began to respond to my sister when she corrected him.  He cherished that special time he spent with her each day.

Stories like these are not rare.  Teachers everywhere go above and beyond for their students just as my sister did for hers.  Teachers are very special people.  They are those who make extreme sacrifices for their students; those who spend their hard earned dollars on classroom supplies, food, and clothing for students; those who work countless hours at home writing plans, grading papers, and creating bulletin boards.  They are those who volunteer with student organizations and tutoring.

Teachers love their students as if they were their own children, caring for them and intervening when they require extra love and support. Teachers are selfless people with very big hearts.

Today is National Teacher Appreciation Day in the United States, and as such, I’d like to recognize and thank teachers everywhere, especially the teachers I’ve had the privilege of knowing.  A few teachers and professors that I had over the years will always remain close to my heart. Without my 6th grade grammar teacher, for example, I probably wouldn’t be a blogger today.

This week I’m attending SAPPHIRE NOW in Orlando, blogging and interviewing the amazing customers that SAP has the privilege of serving.  Many of those customers are actually higher education institutions, and they are using SAP Solutions to make lives better for their students, optimize learning, cut tuition dollars, and empower students to reach their full potential.

Read how University of Kentucky is cutting student debt with SAP technology here. You can follow SAPPHIRE NOW streaming live all week. Keep a look out for sessions by Johns Hopkins University, University of Mississippi, Notre Dame, University of Kentucky, La Trobe University, Boston University, University of Utah, University of Nebraska, Purdue, and more.

And please, don’t forget—call the teachers you know today and thank them for all that they do.

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