We knew going into Teacher Appreciation Week that teachers had the power to changes lives. What we learned coming out of this week was how they do it. Spoiler alert: kids don’t remember teachers for the subjects they teach, they remember them for the support they showed, the courage they inspired and the time they took to listen when no one else would.
As we close out our Teacher Appreciation Week #TCHRPWR blog series, we want to celebrate the teachers we got to know this week. Meeting each teacher and their students left us with a better understanding of the power teachers have to change lives, and also what teachers really teach! Teachers go beyond the curriculum and tests they’re meant to prep their students for, teachers are the inspirers and coaches in the greatest test of all, the ups and downs of life.
When we met Coach Ryan, it was obvious that he saw the bigger picture. He told us about his experience as a teacher, and how in today’s world it’s incredibly important to lead by example and show students what it means to be part of a team. Which is exactly what he did when a student approached him with a dream of playing basketball for his high school.
Here’s that student’s thank you letter to Coach Ryan:
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By accepting Angel on to the high school basketball team, Coach Ryan showed players and spectators alike, what teamwork really means. He made a young boy feel included, loved and respected. That makes him, and teachers like Coach Ryan, Yoobi heroes in our eyes.
When communities face challenges like crime, high unemployment, poverty and incarceration, the role teachers play in students’ lives often takes on much greater significance than what is written in a job description. When we met Mr. Gilmer, it was apparent just how far he was willing to go to keep his students on the right path.
For many young boys in South Central Los Angeles, Mr. Gilmer is a father, a confidant, a listening ear and someone to look up to. Mr. Gilmer told us that the anger students exhibit in school is, often, really an expression of deep pain these students carry inside them. Under-funded schools often don’t have the resources to adequately support troubled youth in a way that respects them while elevating them. That’s where Mr. Gilmer comes in. When others would send kids off to the office for bad behavior, Mr. Gilmer took the time to talk to the kids, listen, and let them know he’ll be there for them.
Mr. Gilmer’s power to change a life was shared with us in Jay’relle’s letter to him:
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Teachers like Mr. Gilmer get an A+ in our book. We know the role of being an educator is extremely challenging, and to add on the responsibility of being a parent-figure or mentor for kids who need extra support is truly heroic (and we know there are thousands and thousands of you teachers doing this day in and day out). Kids are the future, and we can’t imagine a world without teachers like Mr. Gilmer who take the extra time to make sure that all young people feel cared about, respected and included. You are truly helping to shape the future.
When a teacher touches the life of a student, they can change an entire family. Caylee has autism. Growing up, Caylee could barely communicate with her family, and almost never wanted to play with her brothers. When Ms. T came into Caylee’s life, all of that changed. Ms. T helped Caylee find her voice and taught her how to share that with her family. Today, Ms. T is like a part of Caylee’s family – so much so, that it was Caylee’s brothers who nominated her as an outstanding teacher, and wrote the thank you letter you see below to her.
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Do you have the chills like we do? #TCHRPWR is transformational. It can set a kid like Caylee on a completely new and positive life path and open doors to amazing futures. All kids deserve love, support, and a community to cheer them on… and (of course) SO DO THEIR TEACHERS!
Where would we be without the teachers, who despite the long days of lesson plans, note passing, glue spills and distractions, still persevere and enthusiastically show up each day to prepare young people to be successful and happy in life?
Teachers, we give you a gigantic salute for being heroes to young minds. We support you. We respect you. And we hope you feel our Yoobi love today and all year round.