Good teachers key to good school systems

Published 6:00 am Monday, November 18, 2002

Ah, the bright eyes of a child searching for knowledge.

There cannot be anything more satisfying than seeing ‘the lightbulb go on’ when a child grasps a concept and discovers theimportance of the issue at hand. On the other hand, there can alsobe nothing more frustrating than watching a child, who has theability to do better, fail to do so.

These are the trials and tribulations of a schoolteacher. Thegood ones know how to reach the underachieving kids by motivatingthem to dig deeper and reach higher. The good ones know how tofurther motivate the already motivated ones, to inspire them toreach higher and achieve more.

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Each of us can look back and point to a particular teacher whomade a difference in our lives. I had several. It is those teacherswho can take credit for the success of so many of our leaderstoday.

I had the opportunity recently to spend an hour as a teacher. Itwas not the first time I had stood before a class and, hopefully,it will not be the last time. But, on each occasion I get a deeperappreciation for teachers and realize how special they are.

It is not easy getting and keeping a student’s attention for 60minutes. It takes talent. The kids with whom I spoke were patient;most of them listened; a couple asked questions, but did I see that’light bulb go on?’ No, actually I think I saw a couple go out –but it wasn’t the student. It was, in this case, the teacher whofailed.

Over the years we have had an ongoing debate in this countryover education, usually with educators on one side and politicianson the other. Teachers have been hammered, education has beenhammered and our schools have been hammered — sometimes rightlyso, but many times unfairly.

Fortunately in this area, we are blessed with good, strongschools from city to county, public to private. No, they are notperfect and there is room for improvement, but they are so muchbetter than many schools in other parts of the state. They are alsoone of the ingredients to this area’s economic growth.

One of the reasons for our local education success is thequality of the teachers we have been able to attract. And one ofthe reasons we have been able to attract quality teachers isbecause the parents and taxpayers have been willing to do what ittakes to provide quality facilities in which to teach and to learn.In just the past three years voters have approved two bond issuesto help renovate and construct new classrooms and buildings.

This next week is National Education Week. The BrookhavenLincoln County Chamber of Commerce, in conjunction with localbusinesses and merchants, is saluting our teachers with specialdiscounts and incentives at area stores. They are wrapping up thecelebration with a reception at the Lincoln County Multi-Purposebuilding on Thursday from 3 to 5 p.m.

As citizens, as taxpayers, and as parents, we owe a lot ofgratitude to our teachers. They are the ones who are charged withhelping to develop tomorrow’s leaders. They are the ones who are onthe front lines of our children’s development.

When you see a teacher this week offer a handshake, a hug or apat on the back and thank them ‘clicking on those light bulbs.’

Write to Bill Jacobs at P.O. Box 551, Brookhaven, Miss.39602.