An Open Thank You Letter to Teachers

Dear Teachers,

Another school year is over, and there’s a good chance you haven’t been thanked for another year’s hard work. That might actually be quite an understatement. Not only may you have failed to receive real appreciation for your work, your salary and benefits may have been cut while your hours were increased. You may have had more students to teach and more requirements to fulfill. You may not even be sure you’ll be teaching next fall, depending upon budget cuts, even though you are a good and dedicated teacher.

It’s possible that you have had a few students thank you, tell you that something you taught them, did for them, helped them learn was important and meaningful and changed them and inspired them and meant the world to them. It’s also possible few students have taken the time to thank you, because they may be so stressed and frustrated by endless tests, long hours sitting in a chair learning things that don’t seem relevant and important to them, or by a couple of other teachers, administrators or fellow students who’ve demoralized, bullied, scared, or bored them to tears making them hate school despite all you have done.

So if you haven’t received the thanks you deserve, I want to thank you publicly now. And by “you” I mean those teachers who love to teach and do so with all their heart and soul to provide their students with what is important and necessary and inspiring and beautiful and meaningful and true and good and honest. I mean those teachers who care about kids and empower them and ignite their passions and help them achieve their big dreams. I mean those teachers who demand that their students question everything, including what they themselves teach, to ensure that they become the best critical and creative thinkers they can be. I mean those teachers who listen and care. I mean those teachers who are passionate about the subjects they teach and who cannot help but impart that passion.

I want to thank you for doing the most important work of all – educating the next generation. The real hope for our world, for creating peace, for solving our entrenched problems, for developing sustainable, humane, and healthy systems in technology, farming, economics, production, transportation, defense, and so on, lies with you – how well you provide your students with the knowledge, tools, and motivation they need to be able to create such systems. And you deserve extra gratitude for doing what you can to make your curricula serve such ends when standardized bubble tests demand something else entirely from you and often hinder the greater goals for a truly educated populace that you aspire to provide.

Thank you for being willing to work long hours for modest pay and minimal status when you surely could be making more money with less stress and greater prestige. Thank you for buying supplies when the school ran out of money and extending yourself far beyond your job description to help and mentor your students outside of the classroom. Thank you for trying to figure out every day how to manage the needs of so many children and for loving the ones who are hard to love because they make your days so difficult.

Thank you for modeling patience, honesty, courage, perseverance, wisdom, responsibility, generosity, and a commitment to lifelong learning to the best of your ability each and every day in your classroom.

Most of all, thank you for everything you have done and will continue to do to create a better future. There is no other profession that so directly shapes the world of tomorrow. Thank you for teaching.

Have a good summer.

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