According to the CDC, over four million school-aged students from the ages of 3-17 have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. On the other hand, it’s been reported that 41.6% of college students suffer from anxiety. Of course, this doesn’t mean I’m disregarding the myriad of issues others are also facing. This is only a stark reality and it must be acknowledged: Students are struggling.
It’s truly tragic to know so many students are undergoing strenuous situations while they try to learn. This is why it is understandable that so many may feel like school is a nightmare. Yet, despite all the hardships that many may go through, sometimes hope brushes upon these students. It’s almost miraculous, as though delivered by the delicate hands of Athena, the Greek goddess of knowledge; a special person appears in that troubled student’s life. That person is usually an educator who actually gives a damn.
Though there are plenty of educators, not all of them are memorable. Don’t get me wrong, every educator serves a purpose in the advancement of any student, but there’s no denying that some educators provide lackluster efforts. See, great educators are daily heroes and heroines many people ignore. You know, the ones in the trenches, cheering their students on, knowing that their support is the glue keeping some of their students afloat. These types of educators are the ones shaping the future and we should all be thankful for that.
Getting an education can be difficult. And I’m not just talking about a college education. I’m talking about education as a whole. There are many children nowadays suffering through their school experience. Whether children are going hungry at school due to lack of lunch money, trying to focus despite enduring issues at home, or lacking resources needed for a proper education, there’s no denying trying to learn can come with its challenges early on. A regular educator notices all of these things, while a great educator does their best to create a better environment for their students.
Though seemingly not a governmental priority, many of the issues within the educational system can be improved. Students could potentially be given the right environment for an optimal learning experience. But that isn’t the case at the moment. Instead, our students are living through a system that keeps getting worse due to selfishness and utter disregard of different learning structures that could work.
An elementary school teacher from Orlando, Florida, who chose to remain anonymous, expressed their frustration with the current educational system:
“Budget cuts are detrimental. The first thing they cut is support staff, which kills the one-to-one opportunities students could potentially thrive in. Also, resources are minimal. Again, this hurts our children’s potential to succeed.”
Regardless of the limitations that are placed on the education system, teachers still remain true to their passion as any great educator would.
“My daily goal is for kids to learn from daily opportunities, including planned and unplanned circumstances that we may encounter in our day! However, my utmost goal is to teach them to be kind, compassionate and empathetic. The rest will fall in line. We need to solidify emotional education. It’s what our society is lacking.”
So often students are sent off to school, without their parents considering what could be impacting them. That’s where exceptional educators shine. They are the ones that pick up the pieces of their broken students and guide them to their greatest potential, even if no one else sees it.
I’m sure most people remember that infamous troublemaker classmate. People might also recall the classmate who was “gently” mocked by everyone, including the teacher. As cringeworthy as it may seem, I know most of us know of these situations. It’s unfortunate that these situations are even a thing because oftentimes these are the students that need a bit more attention. Even though many will see it as unfair because they’re perceived as just undisciplined, it’s beyond that. Usually, students with problematic behaviors are the ones that are wailing for help, even if it’s just through their troublesome actions. Yet, so many turn a blind eye to them.
I know this from personal experience. I’m not saying that I was a terrible student, because I wasn’t. I was in the Honor Roll most of my life and I’ve always enjoyed excelling in my academics. However, there were some difficult times during my high school years. Between depression, issues at home, and battling eating disorders , neglecting my studies was something that became inevitable. Eventually, I started acting out. Regardless of what was going on, I continued to further my academic career, even if I wasn’t entirely motivated. Lord knows my high school teachers did the least possible to support anyone. Well, not unless you were flirting or gossiping with them, something I found nauseating.
Then came my college years. Those years seemed to drag on forever. I couldn’t seem to find the worth in getting an education anymore. I dropped out a few times, but managed to muster the energy to keep trying. Maybe the universe was tired of seeing this trend with me, that it started sending me little droplets of magic in the form of educators. Not all were understanding, but I did get to become acquainted with some that were phenomenal. They were understanding and empathetic. They searched for solutions, rather than adding to whatever issues were going on. But most importantly, these educators listened. Yes, I got scolded a few times by these professors, but they never stopped believing in me. I guess that’s what I was missing all along. Look, I’m not saying everyone needs this type of treatment to succeed, but man, does it make a difference in the academic journey. Witnessing this type of compassion firsthand by these educators has probably been the most important thing I’ve ever learned.
Unsurprisingly, great educators know that they are going above and beyond. They understand the weight that their support can have on their students, which makes it even more honorable. Recently, I asked a college professor about her purpose. This is her response:
“As I have matured as a woman and an educator, I have realized that teaching is a calling. Anyone could have a degree in English but not everyone could teach it. Some people think I give too much, I am too available, I have no boundaries. While they might be right, I don’t regret any of the times I have gone the extra mile to be there for a student. It is exactly what I’m supposed to do. When people ask me if I have any children, I have stopped saying I have none. I have so many children and they have made my life a rich and fulfilled one.” — Professor Sendin, Miami, FL
I know many people might think that students need tough love and that they need to stop being “coddled,” but I believe this is the wrong mentality. We should be taking care of the ones that will lead our world in the future. It’s the least we can do. Now, I’m not saying that this is the duty of educators. It should also be the duty of anyone around those children trying to make it into this world, especially their family members. Maybe that way we can give educators a helping hand once in a while. Wouldn’t that be nice?
The importance of great educators is often undermined, but these are some of the people we should praise. They deal with an educational system that doesn’t work, compromised pay, and a passion that is constantly overlooked. Even then, their altruism shapes some of the best people for the future. So, whenever possible, celebrate the educators that make the world a better place. Acknowledge their commitment and bravery. Extraordinary educators conduct their jobs with passion, as it’s apparent from what this professor said:
“As much as I do, I always feel I could do more. Always wish I could do more.”
— Professor Figueras, Miami, FL
At least we know that these exceptional educators still exist. For the sake of our future, let’s hope they never stop existing.