I have been undercover (ha!) at my child's old school these past few years and boy do I have an expose to write for you!
First, the ha! was because I am probably the worst at being undercover. I didn't exactly have what you'd call a low profile at the school before I started my first long-term sub gig last year. I was PTA president then, so most teachers knew at least my name if not me personally. Plus, my child was then in 5th grade, so we had already worked out way through the grades and the teachers at that point.
This year my child is no longer at the school, but our hearts and his mother still are there. I have the privilege to be a long-term sub again this year, and what I have learned on this new 'undercover assignment' has solidified everything I knew and thought I knew before.
We all say and think that our teachers and staff members care for our children. I'm not sure though if I even knew how much. When I used to go to lunch when working in corporate America, I am certain that we did not bring very much work talk with us. I guarantee that any break-time was not spent talking about our concern for our clients. (Apologies to any ex-boss or client who might be reading this!)
When a teacher has a brief break or lunch time they are talking about their little clients. They share stories of triumphs and defeats that the day or week has brought them. They are asking for advice from other educators or are listening to each other and offering their own words of wisdom or just a knowing nod. Don't get me wrong, they do spend time talking about their own lives, but it is so evident that their lives include those kids, your kids. When a teacher calls their classroom a family they are not using that word lightly, and neither are your kids. More than once I have heard a child talk about their fellow classmates as they would a sibling or a cousin.
Onto staff members...this includes administration, support staff, and everyone who makes your child's life that much easier on a daily basis. These folks also care for and about your children. When your child is greeted by a security officer yelling "What day is it?" on a Wednesday, well he is doing it to get them going and to brighten their day. All this before they even walk into the building. Then they walk into the building and are greeted every single morning with smiles and hellos. These people are happy to see your children, they are happy that your child is there. When he or she isn't they also worry about them. They worry about you and your families too.
I have seen teachers, administrators, even a security guard in tears over a child and the pain, emotional or physical, that a they are going through. On a personal level, I had a now-retired guard grab me with tears in his eyes and ask about my own kid during our afore-mentioned "worst year ever". He took it personal that he had not seen or stopped any of the teasing and bullying. He told me that he loved my son, and I have no doubt that he truly did.
I have heard administrators from more than one school talk about losing sleep over a certain child, or more than one. While we may see them as the head of the school, often times they are also the heart. Never take their abruptness in the hallway as a snub as they are more than likely already thinking about the next child or parent they have to meet with, and how to help a certain situation.
So this may seem like a giant brown-nosing post, but it is not. It is instead a reminder to us all that we have a community standing behind our children every single day, even weekends. It is a reminder that this community is one made up of love, discipline, and education. People who care about our children as they would their own. People who lose these kids year after year to kids being promoted up and out of their school. I hope that they know that they will always have a place in their hearts. I know that even at my 'advanced age' I can still name so many teachers who made me who I am today.
So the next time we grumble about this appreciation day or that appreciation week, (remember I was PTA president so I know first-hand of the grumbles), that these people deserve every ounce of appreciation on not only those assigned days, but all the days of the school year.