Last night I took Thelma, my dog, for a walk. It was too hot during the day. It was a Sunday so there’s a different crowd on Sundays. The Spanish saying is that you rest after lunch (traditionally the largest meal and a good time for a siesta) and walk off your dinner. Sundays I see more families walking off their dinner.
Down the street a ways I saw a young teenage couple laughing and flirting with each other. They both, probably, left home telling their families they were going for a walk which I don’t hear much in the United States.
As they approached me I was wondering whether to greet them in English or Spanish. There are thousands of people who cross the border (legally) each day and I want them to come back and visit and enjoy Nogales. I sometimes feel if I greet visitors in English, it might make them uncomfortable…silly thought.
These young people looked energetic and enthusiastic so I greeted them in English. The young man stopped in the middle of the crosswalk, burst out a huge teethy smile and said, “Hello teacher.” I was honored by his greeting.
Unfortunately, I did not remember him. I was doing observations at a high school during the year, maybe that’s where he knew me from. I talk to young people who work summers in the Job Corps. My office is attached to the alternative high school and I had attended the community college graduation, maybe it was at one of those places. I also used to teach English as a Second Language to adults. Maybe I was his parents’ teacher and they pointed my out to him.
It really didn’t matter where he knew me, I was just honored that he addressed me with that historic, global reverence to teachers. Teachers are second to parents throughout the world. A young person only needs one great teacher to become the incredible person she or he was placed on this earth to be…only one.
In the United States and especially the last 13 years of No Child (or teacher) Left Behind (joyful), people with no background in education (State & National lawmakers in Congress and local school boards) were making business ventures with young people’s lives. Fortunately we are not world educational leaders and no other country followed our lead.
Throughout the world, educators control the education process and they do quite well. The U.S. claims to offer free and public education to all and some countries do not. Notwithstanding, if educators in the U.S. could be in charge of the educational system, I am sure we could outshine any country and the “teachers” in the U.S. would be revered as life-changers, again.
One of the greatest things about U.S. public schools is that our teachers mold and support young people as creative, thinking individuals, not as widgets as politicians and businesses would like. Hooray to you teachers, my respect and my admiration go to you. Thank you for your hard work, your hope and your optimism because every day you get up believing you will change lives…and you do. I hope you experience the joy of hearing, “Hello Teacher.” when you least expect it.