No one would argue the fact that the Nobel Peace Prize is a highly recognized award given to individuals whose works have touched the lives of many people throughout the world. If you were asked to name five winners, could you? A difficult task, although the award is most highly regarded.
Instead, how about naming five individuals who have touched your life in one way or another? When reviewing your list, did the name of a teacher come to mind? To many of us, it does.
What difference does a teacher make? Let's think back to the rural town of Tuscumbia, Ala. in March of 1887 when a teacher came to work with a student who was not only deaf, but blind as well. That student later wrote that her life began the day her teacher arrived and began spelling words on her hand. The teacher was Anne Sullivan and her student, Helen Keller. What would our world be like without the teachings of Anne Sullivan and the wisdom of Helen Keller? Anne Sullivan, one teacher, who made a difference.
As a classroom teacher myself, we never know with which students we will make a connection. We never know what lives we will touch. We never know what difference we make. What we do know is that we hold the future in our hands for such a short time and we try to make all of what we do and say last long after the last bell rings.
Aristotle wrote: The sign of a great teacher is that the accomplishments of her students exceed her own. If you walk into any classroom here in Payson, you will see great teachers. But, we are in jeopardy of losing 17 educators because of budget restraints. These are 17 teachers who have chosen to make a difference in tomorrow by giving the best of themselves today. How many lives could these 17 teachers touch? In whose lives could they make a difference?
Possibly, the best news is that on May 18 voters now have the opportunity to make a difference. Think back to the list you made earlier. What was the difference a teacher made in your life, or maybe in the lives of your children or grandchildren? The override election is a chance for highly qualified individuals to remain in the classroom making that type of difference.
Children, they are 20 percent of our population, and 100 percent of our future. Let's give them the best -- let's give them back their teachers!
Cynthia M. Chovich, 2004 Arizona Teacher of the Year, Ambassador for Excellence