Friday, May 6, 2022
Dedicated students, distinguished colleagues and dear friends,
And happy Teacher Appreciation Week.
It is fair to say that behind every successful student stands a great teacher. In fact, it is fair to say that behind every successful person stands a great teacher who has influenced the trajectory of their life.
All of us can reflect and identify the teachers who deeply influenced our thinking and our approach, not only to schoolwork, but also to life and its challenges. They inspired, supported and challenged us. I have written in the past about my fifth-grade math teacher who started every session of the class with a mystery story to focus our attention before she started the day’s lesson. I have highlighted and thanked my teachers who helped me realize that small setbacks are no reason to despair. Which teacher or teachers do you wish to thank today, on this Teacher Appreciation Week?
Unfortunately, in our society, we do not provide enough support for our teachers, and many are leaving this noble profession. As Dr. Beth Kania-Gosche, chair of our teacher education and certification department, explained earlier this week in a letter published in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, here in Missouri, we are facing a severe teacher shortage. “There are more than 1,200 openings in the state for K-12 teachers – a record high,” she wrote, adding, “With a starting salary of $27,000, potential teachers in rural areas simply cannot afford to teach, especially when student loan debt is factored in.”
We see the impact of this teacher shortage up close at S&T, and we are doing something about it through our teacher education and certification program. Consider Sarah Darknell, a biological sciences major who is pursuing her teacher certification through the S&T program. After student-teaching at a nearby rural school last year, she stepped in to fill a vacancy at another school as a teacher of physical science, ecology and zoology, even before completing her S&T degree.
S&T’s teacher education and certification program is an exciting approach to teacher training. Students may pursue a bachelor’s degree in elementary or middle school education, obtain an undergraduate certificate in teaching and learning, or complete a secondary education course of study in one of nine distinct concentrations: applied mathematics, biological sciences, business and management systems, chemistry, economics, English, history, physics, or psychology. With over 100 students pursuing teacher certification through this program, it is having an impact on our state, but much more needs to be done.
So as we end this week, I ask that you take a moment to reflect on the ways your favorite teacher inspired and empowered you beyond your classroom success and, if possible, to reach out and thank them.
To all our S&T teachers, and to all teachers, I say, we appreciate all that you do to educate, guide, inspire and empower us. Please know that your influence is profound, with impact far beyond the classroom and for years to come.
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