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"What nobler employment, or more valuable to the state,
than that of the man who instructs the rising generation."

         ~ Marcus Tullius Cicero

There are a lot of overworked and underappreciated professions, but I believe that teaching probably tops the list. Too often, parents expect teachers to work magic with our kids, motivating them in ways we've been unable to do ourselves.  

My daughters have been privileged to have very good teachers and a couple of exceptional ones. A simple thank you was not enough to convey my deep appreciation for the positive influence they had on my girls' lives. Rather than giving another "Worlds Greatest Teacher" mug or ceramic apple, I put together a book of quotes coupled with my photographs for Kgirl1's favorite teacher. I wanted to share some of those pages with all the teachers here. And offer my humble thanks for all you do.

Teaching is not a profession - it is a passion. Without passion for your subject and a desire for your students to learn and be the best in the world, we have failed as teachers, and failure is not an option.
          ~ John Podojil

At one time, I considered becoming a high school English teacher. And then I taught... I substituted in a sixth grade Grammar class for a week, and, at least according to the five giggling girls who handed me paper flowers and thank you notes addressed "to the best teacher ever", the week went pretty well. It wasn’t the students that made me rethink my career option - it was the teacher’s lounge. Listening to the teachers discuss the administration, parents, and a few exasperating kids, I knew I wasn’t cut out for the profession. I did not have that passion.

I'm struck by how many of us here at Morning Feature are either teachers or related to teachers. Current teachers, retired, spouses of teachers, sons and daughters and parents of teachers... We are definitely a group that values education. I may not be cut out for teaching (although I am again thinking it may be what I want to be when I grow up), but personally, if I could think of a way to turn "student" into a paying career, I'd go to school until my dying day.

So this is for the teachers and students among us...

"What sculpture is to a block of marble, education is to the soul."
~ Joseph Addison

This quote reminded me of my favorite college professor, a retired Jesuit priest in my "Canterbury Tales" class (I didn't love that he made us read it in its original Middle English, but I loved his class nevertheless.) Maybe his feeling that we are not here to worship, but to question, is why he was a retired priest...
"It is important that students bring a certain ragamuffin, barefoot, irreverence to their studies; they are not here to worship what is known, but to question it." ~ J. Bronowski, The Ascent of Man

I would love this quote to be tattooed across the foreheads of Boehner, McConnell, McCain, Palin, Limbaugh, Beck, teabagger miscreants, etc...
"None of us got where we are solely by pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps. We got here because somebody - a parent, a teacher, an Ivy League crony or a few nuns - bent down and helped us pick up our boots." ~ Thurgood Marshall

This is one of my favorites -- I hope my daughters will always have a teacher like Sharon Cournoyer. But I confess that I also love the photos, which captured one perfect afternoon. Kgirl1 was two years old and it was the first time she was completely free to roam and discover. No traffic, no crowds, no fears... It was simply amazing to watch her flit from one thing to another, drinking it all in and wanting so much more.
"Life is a journey, not a guided tour. My role as a teacher is to help students take pride in their journey, ask questions, search for answers and learn from their mistakes. I want my students to actively set goals and pursue them. I don't want them to be content as passive obervers as life passes them by." ~ Sharon Cournoyer CT Teacher of the Year
"Not all who wander are lost" ~ J.R.R. Tolkien

I am grateful that I engaged my camera instead of my mouth the afternoon that K2 wanted to ride her bike - she was hot and tired and just couldn't get her legs to do what she needed them to do so she tried a different way. It was actually quite difficult to hold back from correcting her. Again, my gratitude to teachers who allow students the time to find their own solutions...

Never discourage anyone who continually makes progress, no matter how slow. ~ Plato

I'm highlighting this quote because I think it completely captures the Krew at Morning Feature. We represent a broad spectrum -- ages ranging from 20's to 70's, married, single, divorced, gay, straight, parents, grandparents, childless -- and we all come together to discuss the events of the day and, always, to have a laugh.
"A very wise old teacher once said: I consider a day's teaching wasted if we do not all have one hearty laugh. He meant that when people laugh together, they cease to be young and old, master and pupils, jailer and prisoners. They become a single group of human beings enjoying its existence." ~ Gilbert Highet

A finally, a thought for teachers to ponder...
"The future of the world is in my classroom today, a future with the potential for good or bad... Several future presidents are learning from me today; so are the great writers of the next decades, and so are the so-called ordinary people who will make the decisions in a democracy. I must never forget these same young people could be the thieves or murders of the future. Only a teacher? Thank God I have a calling to the greatest profession of all! I must be vigilant every day, lest I lose one fragile opportunity to improve tomorrow." ~ Ivan Weton Fitzwater  (When I originally found the quote, it had been modified. I didn't discover the discrepancy until after I sent my book off to print. The above quotation is correct.)

Those pages were just a few of the quotes I illustrated for my teacher gift. If you are interested in seeing the rest, here is a link to the photoalbum slideshow. (The link brings up a separate window. If you are interested in speeding it up, pausing or whatever, move your mouse and speed controls will pop up in the bottom left.)

So as we celebrate Thanksgiving tomorrow, remember to give thanks to those that helped you bend down and pick up your boots...

There's no word in the language I revere more than "teacher." My heart sings when a kid refers to me as his teacher, and it always has. I've honored myself and the entire family of man by becoming a teacher.
~ Pat Conroy

Originally posted to theKgirls on Wed Nov 25, 2009 at 04:01 AM PST.

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