Celebrating the successes of education

As one of the strangest school years draws to a close, my thoughts are with those who endured so much to finish a surreal semester that presented new challenges and resulted in many educators, administrators, students and staff rising to the occasion to make the best of a difficult situation.

People talk about military servicemen and women, firefighters, police, first responders, doctors and nurses being heroes, and they definitely are. But the job our educators do sometimes is overlooked, and I am proud of the heroic efforts they have made to help students learn and thrive despite being in the midst of a pandemic.

Maybe it’s the fact that I was an education reporter for the Temple Daily Telegram several years ago, that many family members have worked in education or because I’ve just gotten to know so many dedicated teachers, principals and staff and also talk to students, but I definitely have high esteem for those involved in education.

When I was the education reporter in Temple, I interviewed a man who was an elementary school teacher because he saw it as a calling, an opportunity to serve. That man had once been a soldier, was injured serving overseas and had his military days cut short. The man said he was devastated, but a superior officer encouraged him to continue serving in a different way. The man was inspired to serve children by becoming a teacher, and you could tell by the way he spoke about his job and the reactions of the students he taught that those students were fortunate to have him in their lives.

That man’s dedication in the classroom is just one of countless stories of educators dedicating themselves to enrich the lives of their students. I had the opportunity to sit in on staff development days at schools during the summer and have seen “behind the scenes” and seen how teachers work hard to prepare themselves to do their very best.

I have seen creativity, encouragement, dedication and an unyielding optimism in teachers to help lift students to excel and accomplish great things, and that opportunity to help shape the future in a positive way is an awesome and sacred responsibility that the educators take to heart.

I have been blessed as a reporter and editor to meet many fascinating people over the years and to help shine the spotlight on them, ranging from a Texan who survived Dec. 7, 1941, at Pearl Harbor to community servants who put their lives on the line every day to help keep us safe. I see that same type of dedication in many educators who are truly difference-makers, and who help plant seeds of knowledge that result in a lifetime love of learning.

Not everyone is called to be a soldier, sailor, firefighter, police officer, doctor or nurse, but each of us can make a positive difference in people’s lives. Educators are on the front lines when it comes to that, and that’s definitely noble and inspiring.

Hats off to our students and to those who serve them in education. The road isn’t always a smooth one, but it’s always worthwhile. 

It’s wonderful to see years of hard work rewarded at graduation, or as students move on to the next level and as educators help and encourage them along the way. The spark of success may be small at first, but it grows thanks to the commitment of those who help inspire and motivate, who show by their actions that they care and truly value those they have the opportunity to serve. They help meet the challenges of the present and set the stage for the accomplishments of the future by what they do every day. That’s definitely something worth celebrating.

Jeff Osborne is editor of the Refugio County Press and News of San Patricio.