For the past several years, I have had the honor of interviewing the induction class for the National Teachers Hall of Fame on 14 KVOE.
As a broadcaster, there are some programs you yawn over. Others, you sometimes wonder who scheduled your guests and why. And there are a few where you just wish the microphone would swallow you whole so it would all be over. That is definitely not the case when the NTHF inductees come to studio.
To me, the program has always been an inspiring one to either listen to or moderate, and it’s because of the passion, thoughtfulness, drive and insight the teachers possess individually and as a group. And today’s program, featuring Deb Cornelison (Ada, Okla.), Rebecca Gault (representing one of my former hometowns, Bel Air, Md.), Darryl Johnson (Smithville, Mo.), Martha McLeod (Rockport, Texas) and Beth Vernon (Blue Springs, Mo.) was no exception.
Honestly, I’m not sure what inspires me the most, and there is a lot to choose from. Listening to the inductees talking about the surprises of their announcements a few weeks is amazing in its own right because they are truly shocked by the honor, but that only sets the stage. There are the reasons they get into the field. There are the things they do in class to nurture their students. There are the expectations they demand of themselves, their students and their communities. There is the understanding of the awesome responsibility their job entails and the willingness to meet that challenge every day.
I come from a family tree that has both traditional and nontraditional teachers, so that’s part of the reason I enjoy doing the program and learning from the teachers. My grandmother taught elementary school, while my mother has been involved in teaching quiltmaking for decades and my wife is itching to get back into teaching dance.
There are only a couple K-12 teachers in my life — Howard Faber and Robbie Rotschafer, who I had back-to-back in fifth and sixth grades — who I connected with as a child. Every time I host this annual program, however, I know I could have connected with each of the educators, learned from them, grown as a result of them.
Education takes a lot of hits these days for a lot of reasons. Part of it is because of teachers who, for whatever reason, don’t see their responsibilities the way these teachers do. Part of it is our lawmakers keep changing the rules on how to teach and how to gauge success. And a lot of it is because we as a society demand teachers be our children’s parents (not just teach them about school subject matter) and then give our educators no support whatsoever when it comes to disciplinary matters or performance expectations.
These teachers that come to Emporia, Kan., each and every mid-June are the best of the best, even if they don’t say it. But they also represent the teachers who care deeply about their students, work night and day to ensure their success and will never be nominated for their work.
Do yourself a favor. Click here to listen to the inductees. Let yourself be inspired by these individuals. Allow yourself to realize good things happen in education every day, but the teachers and staffers who guide our children alongside us can’t do it alone. Learn more about goals and objectives and current work of the National Teachers Hall of Fame. It’s inconceivable so few people know about this particular hall of honor when others of less importance are so well-known…but that’s the subject of another column.
Pick their brains. Work with them. Listen to what they are seeing and saying about your youngsters. Teachers see incidents and trends in classrooms we may not see for weeks or months or even longer if our children keep their guards up at home.
And thank the teachers of your children. It’s the least we can do for what they do.