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    The Heart of Cambridge Public Schools 

    The best place to begin a discussion of public education is in the classroom.  It is here, in the hundreds of classrooms across the city, that the most important interactions occur daily, between teachers and students.  Parents of school-age children (and though I am somewhat removed from this group now, as a father of two, I remember it well) rightly focus their interest and passion here.  We all want to feel confident that our children’s teachers are well prepared, supported, and supervised in their daily work with our most precious “jewels.”

              Because we love our children and strive to make their lives better than our own (a generational tradition we learned from our parents and grandparents), we naturally press for all we can hope to gain for them.  Sometimes this means we help with homework, volunteer in schools, or become active in any of numerous other ways to support learning, but in the end we recognize that the teachers have our children largely to themselves for those six hours a day.  Thus, we place tremendous trust and faith in the faculty and staff to help our daughters and sons realize their dreams.

              Cambridge employs over 600 teachers, and each one is an individual, with his or her own style, personality, interests and versatility.  People sometimes invest teachers with qualities that are more than merely human—some parents hope that teachers can transform their children into something that they are not.  However, all parents want the best for their kids, and we do well to understand the opportunities, constraints and realities that accompany the education process. We need our teachers, and I am honored and proud to serve among these amazing people and to call them my colleagues.  As adults, when we look back on our own time in school, we never remember our superintendent, but we clearly see the faces and hear the voices of the teachers who made a difference in our lives.

             The interest and passion family members and others bring is understandable and, in fact, should be encouraged.  We are incredibly fortunate in this community to have a highly professional faculty and staff who are dedicated to going the extra miles for the children in their care.  The high expectations this community holds for education is a double-edged sword:  the expectations push us all to do our best work, but at the same time they often bring pressures and demands that make life a little stressful at times. 

             All of which brings me to the main point.  Being a teacher in 2015 is hard work.  Think of the last time you had 20 girls and boys in your charge for your child’s birthday party and how exhausted you were after two hours.  Now imagine not only watching out for their safety and fun, but also having to teach them, and think about doing that for six hours a day, every day.  Teaching is physically and emotionally draining work, but it is also exhilarating and rewarding.  Add to the mix the seemingly unending cascade of demands and mandates that flow to teachers from the State and Federal government, the increasingly challenging set of social and emotional needs children bring to school every day, the internal drive our teachers feel to help every single child succeed, and, of course, the ultimate enduring importance of each and every interaction teachers have with students all day long, and you can see why teachers in America feel stressed.  At the same time, the CPS teachers I know also feel energized and dedicated to meeting these challenges, and that is what makes them the best professionals and so worthy of our respect and admiration. Cambridge teachers throw their head, heart and soul into their work every day.  If ever a profession qualified as the proverbial “labor of love,” it is teaching. 

    Our teachers appreciate your support in big and little ways.  Often, a simple “thank you” means the world.  This year, please join me in opening your hearts to our teachers and recognizing them for the little miracles they perform every day and the profound impact they have on children’s lives.  We build community by pausing long enough to make the effort to acknowledge others among us.  To all of you who have supported our teachers in so many ways, I say, “THANK YOU!”

    (This post also appeared in the Cambridge Chronicle on September 10, 2015)

    Posted by jyoung On September 10, 2015 at 10:36 AM