Are less and less people pursuing teaching as a career these days? Is the teaching profession struggling to recruit the best and the brightest?

I was at a graduation ceremony recently when those receiving the degree of Master of Arts in Teaching were invited to rise. When all 12 candidates stood up, my wife poked me in the side, whispering that when she graduated with the degree several years ago, hundreds did too.

Why are fewer people going into teaching nowadays? The answers run the gamut, from low pay to unsafe classrooms and neighborhoods. Politics and economics also play critical roles in making teaching, especially at the elementary school level, unattractive and meaningless.

Now more than ever, society needs to register and convey its appreciation of teachers. It is most appropriate that teachers are recognized for their sacrificial service, for few other professions impact lives as that of teaching. Indeed, teaching is the mother of all other professions. Everybody has had a teacher at some point in their life, whether in the formal classroom or in other spheres of life. What better time to thank a teacher for his or her influence than during Teacher Appreciation Week, May 6-10, 2019.

The theme of Teacher Appreciation Week this year is “Out of this world,” which aligns perfectly with the Seventh-day Adventist philosophy or understanding of Christian education. Adventists understand that education is for now and eternity, for life in this world and in the world to come. Adventist teachers help to shape minds after the divine similitude.   They point their students heavenward, underscoring that the things that are seen are temporary, but that those that are unseen and yet to be experienced are real and eternal (2 Cor. 4:18).

The concept of “Out of this World” also connotes excellence. Mediocrity does not belong in the classroom. Its negative effects are almost always irreversible. Countless students never bounce back from exposure to an incompetent teacher who lacked a passion for teaching and who failed to connect with his or her students. Teachers who shun mediocrity by challenging their students to perform “Out of this World” are teaching in the truest sense of the vocation. Such teachers are honoring the rich heritage of teaching.

I wish to encourage you to take a moment this week to thank a teacher for his or her service. Express appreciation for the huge difference the teacher is making. Let the teacher know that he or she is changing the course of history.   Share with the teacher that he or she is influencing lives for eternity. Stress that the teacher will never earn what he or she is worth  and that, in the end, sacrificial service helps to define and characterize good teaching.

Almost universally, an apple on the desk of a teacher signifies appreciation for the teacher. It is a tangible expression of gratitude for a life that is being poured into the lives of others, often at some peril. Please offer a gift of gratitude to a teacher this week. Both you and the teacher will benefit from your kind gesture. Together, let’s celebrate our teachers!

R. Clifford Jones


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