Why a Teacher is More Valuable Than a Famous Athlete
Last Friday I sat at a long wooden table at a small suburban elementary school with three special education teachers and a second grade teacher. We were discussing how my young client would receive reading and speech and language support this fall. How many times per week would he be pulled out of the class? And with whom? How would progress be measured? I was impressed by the level of concern, knowledge and professionalism each teacher put forth.
At one point, one teacher turned to the mother and asked, “How would you like us to communicate to you?” I walked away thinking this boy is lucky: he’ll be getting optimal help and will likely become a strong reader.
Our country pays an enormous amount of attention to athletes and celebrities. They have broad recognition and status, though in reality, their ability to positively impact our lives is low in comparison to the value that we place on them.
In contrast, consider the role of the early elementary school teacher. These low-profile individuals hold great sway over our lives and our children’s. As we know from research, young children are neuro-cognitively more available to change than at any other time. A child struggling to read, comprehend, speak or write is in danger of failing in school. The sooner a teacher addresses and remediates a weakness, the greater the chance the child can succeed in school. Committed, intelligent and focused elementary and special education teachers are on the front line and critically important to a child’s academic and emotional well being. They deserve more recognition and support, and should be applauded and praised when they jump in early to help a young child who fails to meet early and critical academic benchmarks.
In fact, the second grade teacher I spoke with deserves more cheers than the star quarterback on TV.