Cottage Grove, Education

It’s Teacher Appreciation Week

You have probably seen the bumper sticker that reads, “It will be a great day when schools get all the money they need and the Air Force will need to have a bake sale to buy a bomber.”
While that message may seem simplistic, it does have an element of truth to it.
Schools are always scrambling to figure out how to provide a rich and interesting learning environment for its students. Budget cuts and rising costs are taking a toll. Last Saturday night, London School held its annual fundraiser, Springfest, at the Cottage Grove Armory. It was a beautiful evening.
Every school has its parents’ club doing things to raise money, helping around the school to paint, landscape, cleanup and work with students.Many teachers and administrators are seeking grants to buy materials, equipment, or to pay for programs.
There are many ways to rank schools and school systems and state education overall, whether it be through funding levels, graduation rates, test scores and parent satisfaction levels.
Despite all of those tangible measures, what makes or breaks a school is the cog that turns the whole machine — the teacher.
Growing up, I had some fantastic teachers, some not so good … and one or two duds. But despite that, I turned out okay and fully employable when I left high school. I wasn’t planning on going to college and settled into the nine to five.
Then I started to appreciate the time spent in school and some of the teachers that I had had. Being able to follow directions, listen to instructions, ask clarifying questions and work well with anyone, it all came from teachers who had consciously worked those skills into my thick head.
I had tolerated school but never really considered it very much. It was just something you did and I was actually rather surprised when I found myself in 12th grade and graduating.
You can imagine my surprise when, after an array of jobs — many of which involved manual labor — I suddenly found myself in the teaching profession at the age of 42.
I had worked some grueling, dirty jobs before, as well as some tedious, boring ones, but never in my life have I tried anything that took it out of you like a teaching job.
I was getting by on very little sleep and could never seem to get caught up with all I had to do. It was just constant. And so many little things that make it all so crazy, like taking attendance, handing out letters from the office, grading, meetings (lots of meetings), paperwork, the copy machine being down, etc. Oh yes, and managing the classroom and figuring out a way to present the lesson in an understandable way.
When I had worked in the trades, I would sometimes go home exhausted if we had to hump that day, but at least I could see what got done. In teaching, I always went home pretty wiped but too often it was also with the feeling of what did I accomplish today?
Teaching is the long game. It might be years before a student comes up to you and says ,“You really taught me a lot;” you get to thinking maybe you were doing something, after all.
This whole week is “Teacher Appreciation Week” and you still have a chance on Friday to say something to your student’s teacher to express your thanks for trying to give them a good education.
On Wednesday, South Lane School District teachers, parents and students walked from their schools (at least those within the city limits) and converged on Main Street to show support for teachers as the legislature considers funding decisions for the coming year. “Make Main Street Red for Public Ed” was the event title and many wore red to support public education and teachers.
While some school districts experienced walkouts and declared a non-school day, South Lane teachers taught as usual and left their schools on the early release schedule.
Speaking somewhat from the inside, teaching can be a wonderfully fulfilling profession, but awfully hard. A few words of thanks and support can sure go a long way to those hard-working teaching folks.
And to the legislature: “Hey, you get what you pay for!”
Please support public education. It is an investment in our state’s future as well as your kids or grandkids.

Dana Merryday is a Chronicle columnist and can be reached at 541-942-7037 and via email at [email protected]



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