There are two professions that EVERYONE thinks they can do and do better: politicians and teachers.
I don’t know much about being a politician but I do know not everyone can be a teacher, let alone a good teacher.
Seriously, how many people can be a teacher?
You teach the past, guide the present, and build the future.
You listen to the cries of pain, sadness, and embarrassment. You feel the abuse, hunger, and loss of the innocent.
You need to have the strength to battle germs, egos, and the expectations of parents. While being gentle enough to comfort a 13 year-old-girl who doesn’t feel pretty.
You have to possess the optimism of the naïve, be realistic enough to know your limitations, and have the ingenuity to overcome the impossible.
You have to open the mind of a child that has been continually closed.
You have to be entertaining enough to hold the attention of 30 teenagers who stay up all night playing video games and gossiping on-line.
All while being a role model, a moral example, and an inspiration.
Your salary is barely enough to survive month to month but you have to buy pencils, papers, and three-ring binders for the children whose parents are too poor or too busy to buy them themselves.
You teach the children who know everything. They don’t know what you repeated to them 15 times last week but they know everything.
Your feelings are never hurt and your ego is never seen.
Your voice wears down as you project to all your students but you can’t drink water or else you will need to pee. There is no time for bathrooms when you are a teacher!
Some day an adult will blame you for not knowing the tenth amendment. Some day an adult will say you do a bad job, you manipulate minds, and you fail to teach what is important. That adult makes four times your salary delegating work to other people but thinks you make too much money.
The curriculum gets longer, the standards get stranger, the evaluations get tougher. Just when you figure it out, a new movement is thrust upon you, RAD, STEM, Common Core, NCLB, Smart Goals–don’t worry, the new best way to do your job is just around the corner.
Time is always your enemy. Assemblies, pep rallies, fire drills, motivational speakers, interruption after interruption, it never stops… today the basketball team is in the regional finals, tomorrow half your class will be on a band field trip, but your lesson must stay the same.
When your whole world is crashing in and you feel like breaking down, you put a child’s needs before your own. A trivial want, but at that moment it is the child’s entire world.
This is the job of a teacher–the job that never quits. The job you bring home with you, the job that steals your sleep. This is the job you cannot “take off” from. If you cannot be there, you write hours and hours of instructions so that the whole world isn’t destroyed in your absence. You are never absent. You spend days upon days helping the absent, but you, you are never absent. You are a teacher.
Trust me: not everyone can be a teacher.
In the Staunton area of the Shenandoah Valley, every year the Community Foundation and the Dawbarn family recognize 10 area educators who have “demonstrated a commitment to inspiring, encouraging, and fostering the education of young people.”
The Dawbarn Education Awards, were established in 1992 by H. Dunlop “Buz” Dawbarn. Mr. Dawbarn wanted to celebrate exceptional individuals in the communities of Augusta County, Staunton, and Waynesboro.
This year’s winners of the Dawbarn Award are:
- Annette Bell Bess, Cafeteria Manager, Wenonah Elementary School
- Amy Neal Bussey, Drama & English Teacher, Stuarts Draft High School
- Jill Watson Clark, People Places & Teacher’s Aide, Pygmalion School
- Heather Davis, Science Teacher, Robert E. Lee High School
- William R. Deardorff, Principal, Buffalo Gap High School
- Carroll “CJ” Hill, Jr., English Teacher, Kate Collins Middle School
- Susan Maxwell Jenny, AP Calculus and Engineering Teacher, Shenandoah Valley Governor’s School
- Mary Pritchett Mawyer, Fourth Grade Teacher, Hugh K. Cassell Elementary School
- Susie Shreckhise, Third Grade Teacher, Clymore Elementary School
- Ruth Shaia Thompson , Special Education Teacher, Shelburne Middle School
Mary Mawyer, compared the first day of school to Christmas. She talked about how excited she would be to return to school after the summer. Her passion for teaching was so impressive.
It is a prestigious award, and the $10,000 that comes with the honor is pretty nice too. And who is more deserving than teachers?
On the way out I smiled and waved at CJ Hill in the parking lot — he had that Cheshire cat grin, that feeling of being on top of the world, that feeling of pure awesomeness. You see, I know that feeling well. Two years ago I was humbled with the Dawbarn award myself. Sitting in that room Monday night brought back all those same feelings — Do I really deserve this? Am I even in the same league as these other winners? There is no way I am as great as my introduction says I am.
I guess it is human nature to doubt yourself and feel strange about being recognized, but the thing is, teachers deserve nights like this. We work too hard; we are often taken for granted. Teachers are amazing and wonderful people and our society would not exist with out us.
H. Dunlop “Buz” Dawbarn was born June 14, 1915 in New York City. After earning a degree in political science from Princeton and studying engineering at Johns Hopkins, Mr. Dawbarn founded Dawbarn Brothers in Waynesboro, now known as Wayne-Tex. While Mr. Dawbarn experienced professional success, it was his philanthropic and community contributions for which he is best known. Since the establishment of this fund in 1992, the Community Foundation has presented 195 awards totaling $1.236 million… Thank you Buz Dawbarn! — Community Foundation of the Central Blue Ridge.