An important part of advocacy is to thank the stakeholders, policymakers, and staff with whom one meets, especially if they introduce or pass legislation or an agency rule that is beneficial to you. But today, it seems appropriate to thank the educators we have had, educators we know, and educators all over the world who devote their time, energy, and joy to teaching young people and adults.
Mother Mouton, headmistress of my all-girl Catholic K–12 school, was the epitome of gentle kindness. We all revered her. Mrs. Koss made American history come alive, and Madame Green had no tolerance for us hide-in-the-back, hoping-she-won’t see us students, forcing us to speak French and only French. The professors and graduate assistants at the University of Virginia challenged, encouraged, and believed in us, for which I will always be grateful.
I am grateful for my children’s teachers: Mrs. DeFilippo, who scheduled a two-hour block every Tuesday morning for her third-grade students to write and only write; Mr. Butterfield, my son’s English teacher, who worked with him every day his senior year when he was homebound with a debilitating illness; and the George Mason University Art Department, who enveloped my daughter with unbelievable compassion and understanding when her close friend was gunned down at Virginia Tech on April 16, 2007.
I am amazed by the energy of our policy analysts, who, although they are teaching and researching and writing, still manage to analyze the issues throughout the United States and policy analyses. I appreciate the NCTE board members and staff, who, in addition to teaching in the classroom, still dedicate time to running this organization; the state teachers of the year who choose to advocate beyond their classrooms in the state and national arenas; and the teacher ambassadors who travel to the United States Department of Education to make sure Congress and agency officials hear the voices of teachers.
Most of all, I am grateful to the teachers who show up every day to wipe little noses, patiently conduct grating violins, secretly slip gift cards into the backpack of a teen who has been kicked out of his house; those teachers who seek every avenue to incite a love of reading in a recalcitrant youth or who inspire a child to pursue a dream or who shadow those who may fall to make sure they stand up straight.
This Thanksgiving, I am remembering those who helped guide me to be the person I am today.
With gratitude – Lu Ann Maciulla McNabb