You work tirelessly, putting in many more hours than what you’re “on the clock” for, all in an effort to deliver your message so that it may reach even the most challenging of students. Contrary to what some may believe, you are not motivated by extrinsic rewards like trophies, titles, or even the summer off, but rather intrinsic opportunities such as the look on a student’s face when they finally “get it” or the smile on a parents face when their child succeeds. Rarely do you hear the words “thank you” and you’re the last one to look for public recognition. There is no guarantee you will ever know the degree to which you have made a difference in someone’s life. Perhaps, if you are lucky, you will read about a former student’s success in a newspaper or trade journal. Then, because of your humble nature you will celebrate silently, with the only indication of what you are feeling being a smile on your face and warmness in your heart. You will celebrate, not because you were a part of his/her success, but because they were able to experience it. We live in a time when everything is tied to “metrics” and accountability is the word of the day, yet the real impact of a teacher remains very difficult to measure. Yes, traditional schools have standardized tests, EMS can measure medical outcomes, fire can measure response times, and law enforcement can compare the rise and fall of crime. But we are unable to measure what may be your greatest contribution of all, the intangibles. What about the times you made a difference in a student’s experience without even knowing it? As I reflect upon my time in public school, to my first EMS class, and being a new recruit in the fire service; rarely did I know at a particular moment in time that the teacher would or was making a difference in my life. A few of these teachers I have had the opportunity to personally thank, but most will never know the true impact they have made in my life. I am not without fault, but have made a conscious effort to show my appreciation by emulating their values, their integrity, and their compassion to others. For all of the success stories there are in teaching, there are also the stories of the student that could not be reached. This can be difficult for teachers to accept, much like the EMT that loses a patient or a firefighter that loses a house; the best of the best often take these experiences personally, and in severe cases may begin to question their ability to do their job. During these moments it is important to remind yourself that you are only human, you can’t win them all, and sometimes the cards just aren’t in your favor. It is during these times I ask you, I beg you, not to focus on the battles you’ve lost, but on the wars that you’ve won. I am who I am because someone just like you took the time to care and unselfishly gave me more than I could ever give back. To all of the teachers out there, thank you for all that you do! Al

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