Teachers deserve more than a pickup for molding our youth

West Virginia’s teachers sent their quest for more pay and benefits nationwide, even worldwide, something that wouldn’t have happened before the internet.

It wasn’t the first time teachers in the state had appealed for more pay, it just wasn’t recognized outside the state’s limits. In the 1980s teachers made their request to the Legislature. Their cry wasn’t heard like it was in 2018.

I remember one teacher during that older appeal saying he was going out of state to make a living because of the low pay. “I want more than a pickup truck and a dog,” he said. I always wondered if he even got more than a pickup. I never did, unless station wagons count.

The thing is, teachers deserve anything they can get. How many times have you wondered what your own life would have been like without that boost you got from your teachers. If you merely went through life without crediting teachers for helping you along the way, you may not have been able to read this.

I do know of one instance where one of my teachers got a bit of credit for helping me through life. In junior high my class was told to write about my favorite teacher. I chose my fourth and fifth grade teacher. She taught both classes in the same room.

One class got an assignment while the other half of the class did something else. Just think of what one-room grade school teachers went through.

Anyway, I took the certificate to my teacher during class on the second floor. She didn’t’ hesitate to teach me even then. She had me stand in front of her classes and make the presentation of the best-teacher certificate and tell the class what it was. Some teacher! Always teaching.

In third grade, I got a scolding from the teacher, a redress I still don’t believe was merited. I’ll blame my best friend for that one. Anyway, when I became a newspaper reporter, I was sent into South Park to pick up a news item. Guess who came to the door with the meeting notice. My third grade teacher. And she remembered me, among all her hundreds of students. I had long since forgiven her for that day in her class.

A similar instance occurred when I received an honor during high school class day. The presenter was my grade school principal and math teacher. He remembered me as being one of his students and told the

audience so.

During my second grade winter, I missed school for more than a month, having childhood diseases back to back. My teacher didn’t miss a beat, sending assignments home with my sister.

Some teachers were remembered by students as being responsible for more than one class. That included one of my English and journalism teachers in high school. I had a fourth grade music teacher who also taught ninth grade speech.

First grade teachers can’t be overlooked, because without the basics, the rest wouldn’t mean much. And you may whiz through reading and writing without thinking who taught the simple things in life. First-graders often were the most difficult to teach, their minds elsewhere, and being homesick.

In the old days, teachers often had to be mothers and fathers, sometimes wielding the whip. They face different circumstances in today’s world. They have to deal with smart phones and other electronic devices.

They deserve more of everything, including dogs and pickup trucks, since they are often responsible for out-of-school events and family activities.

John Samsell is a retired copy editor/special sections editor for The Dominion Post. Email him at columns@dominionpost.com.

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