A tribute to teachers in challenging times



“Better than a thousand days of diligent study is one day with a great teacher.” — Japanese proverb

Throughout my formative years, I was fortunate to have teachers who inspired me and gave me the insight to succeed inside and outside the classroom. Beyond the book learning and the curriculums, I remember the life lessons they taught me and how they motivated me to climb out of my shell, embrace a new way of thinking or pursue a talent or interest that I had.

As the proverb states above, one day with a great teacher can make a huge difference in the lives of children. Now, more than ever, I think we’re realizing just how important the role of teachers is in our society, especially as they navigate the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s no secret that COVID-19 has disrupted so many facets of our everyday lives. But few areas have been impacted more than the field of education and, in turn, how teachers instruct students.

When schools shut down across Michigan in March, many districts were left scrambling to put together online learning options and finish the school year. That put a great deal of pressure on teachers to come up with virtual lesson plans and help students stay on track with courses.

With the advent of fall, most districts in the state opted to start the new school year online and eventually transition into a hybrid model of in-person instruction. Now that we’ve entered mid-October, school districts in our region have been given the green light to gradually reopen, albeit in a hybrid format.

Through it all, teachers have had to adapt to rapidly changing circumstances— whether they’re teaching exclusively online or returning to a classroom setting with students.

I can’t imagine what it must be like for our educators to navigate the sanitary and social distancing protocols, while still working to provide high quality instruction for students in the classroom. On top of that, teachers are having to take extra precautions to avoid any possible COVID-19 exposure.

Let’s also not forget how stressful this time must be for school administrators, who have had to make tough decisions about reopening schools as safely and efficiently as possible.

In every sense, educators are part of the frontline struggle against COVID-19. They are attempting to provide kids with the best education possible in the face of tremendous adversity…all so that students get to have those life-changing moments that only a great teacher can provide.

As school continues this fall and into the winter, let’s remember to give teachers our support, understanding and prayers. Consider donating school supplies to local classrooms or sending your child’s teacher a thank you note. Even the seemingly smallest gestures will mean a lot to them during these tough times.

In the words of Guy Kawasaki, “If you have to put someone on a pedestal, put teachers. They are society’s heroes.”

Ben Gagnon is a reporter with the Genesee County View. You can contact him at bgagnon@mihomepaper.com.