Thank You for Your Service

I am just in from the first of two trips to Oklahoma this month.  Lots of good trait work happening in the middle of the country!  Exciting.  While flying home today I got to thinking about something you hear pretty often on the airlines–Delta in particular.

When men and women in uniform are on the plane, one of the flight attendants will stop and announce their presence, then add, “Thank you for your service,” followed by a round of applause by all the passengers, including me, of course.

Why, though, don’t we stop and thank teachers for their service, too?  And principals?  And secretaries and custodians at schools?  Why don’t people who spend their whole lives making it possible for children to succeed and move forward in life, get the same kind of public appreciation we give our servicemen and women?  Who deserve it–don’t get me wrong.  I think what they do is courageous, valiant, and flat-out awesome every single day.  But I also think what educators in schools do on a daily basis is heroic and often goes unheralded.

I’m old enough to remember how badly our soldiers were treated when they returned from the Vietnam War.  It was unconscionable how they were demonized for doing their patriotic duty.  Shame on anyone who didn’t stand up for them then but good for all of us for learning from that dark time and making sure that no matter what side of the political spectrum we might be on November 6, our military personnel get the respect they deserve.

So how do we begin a campaign to thank the nation’s teachers for showing up every morning and digging in to do the incredibly difficult and complex work required to educate today’s young people?  I’d like to begin by suggesting every faculty room create a big sign, “Thank you for your service.”  Because make no mistake about it, it IS service.  A normal day is at least 12 hours and at the end, when you finally fall into bed, it begins again the next day and then the next….

I challenge every local newspaper to sponsor a full page advertisement that reads “Thank you for your service,” followed by a list of names of every educator from local school districts.  Not the names of schools, but the names of individuals.  Education is individual and it’s teachers and fellow educators who take the job on, one at a time. As days like “National Writing Day” roll around on November 20th, there should be is a concerted effort on the part of businesses across the community to thank teachers for what they do and note how much it contributes to our society, not to mention our economy.  Maybe they would post signs that say “Teachers, thank you for your service” outside their businesses.  It would mean a lot to every teacher I know. It would help morale–and teaching morale could use a boost.

I’m just saying, teachers matter.  They give so all of us can benefit.  I really, really do thank you for your service.

About Ruth Culham

RUTH CULHAM has written more than 40 books and best-selling resources illuminating both writing and the reading-writing connection for countless educators around the globe. Her groundbreaking work with the writing traits and writing from reading is the culmination of 40 years of research, practice, and passion. Ruth’s most recent books, The Writing Thief: Using Mentor Texts to Teach the Craft of Writing and Dream Wakers: Mentor Texts That Celebrate Latino Culture, are available from Stenhouse Publishers. She also conducts professional development for schools and districts and writes a regular column for The Reading Teacher.
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