Hoppy Kercheval, Opinion

Teachers deserve our respect, support

Recently, I wrote a commentary about how our public education system in West Virginia is failing to achieve the state constitutional requirement of providing a “thorough and efficient” system of free schools. If that were so, the recently released test scores would be much better.

The test scores are important, however, they do not tell the full story. There is another aspect of public education that is more personal than a test result and often just as important to the development of young minds — the relationship between teacher and student.

After parents — and sometimes in lieu of absent parents — teachers are among the most influential individuals in a young person’s life. Consider these survey results from the National Center for Education Statistics published by Education Corner:

  • The average teacher will affect over 3,000 students during their career.
  • 54% of students say a teacher helped them overcome a difficult situation in their lives.
  • 88% of students report a teacher has had a positive effect on them.
  • 75% of students see teachers as mentors and role models.
  • 83% of students say teachers have boosted their confidence and self-esteem.

These numbers are important to keep in mind as another school year begins. Every day thousands of students in West Virginia, and millions across the country, are bonding with their teachers in positive ways.

For every story about a raucous school board meeting or an argument over textbooks and curriculum, there are thousands of unrecorded stories about a young person who is developing a passion for learning because of the efforts of a teacher.

And because of that, a life is changed.

That is why we must hold teachers in high regard. Their difficult mission is to try to mold the next generation by instilling in these young minds the value of knowledge, so it is prepared to lead socially, culturally, economically, politically and ethically in the future.

Author and historian Will Durant said, “Education is a progressive discovery of our own ignorance.” Teachers peel back that ignorance and reveal to young people the limitless possibilities that come with learning.

Simultaneously, teachers serve as critical role models for students who, whether they know it or not, are searching for people to emulate as they navigate the myriad difficulties associated with growing up.

Yes, public education has challenges and not all teachers are up to the task, but most are, or they would not be engaged in such a difficult profession. They deserve our respect and our support.

Hoppy Kercheval is a MetroNews anchor and the longtime host of “Talkline.” Contact him at hoppy.kercheval@wvradio.com.