Losing some of our greatest resources

Published 12:00 am Friday, May 2, 2003

I have had the great privilege this week of meeting most of the saints of Covington County. They are tireless, enthusiastic, and patient beyond belief. They mold our future with caring hearts and hands and the do so for far too little compensation.

I speak of the kindergarten teachers.

We turn our five-year-olds loose in their rooms, wild rivers of energy. When they come back to us, that energy is still there, but it has been channeled and focused and has become a thing of creation and knowledge. While I’ve been reading over the comments those tiny dynamos have made for our annual kindergarten special, I’m amazed at how many of them tell me they want to become teachers. But the more I think about it, the less amazed I am. What role models these teachers have supplied our children! I have seen them take unexpected circumstances, constant interruption and chaos and turn them into a calm order. And that was just when they were dealing with me. What they’ve done with their students is nothing short of miraculous.

By this time next month, some of the teachers I have so enjoyed meeting this week may be gone, victims of proration. What a terrible sacrifice is being made on the altar of the budget. Evidence of previous sacrifices are present even now, with some schools having kindergarten classes far too large to benefit anyone - the students, the teachers, the parents, or the society waiting for the children to emerge in 12 years as functioning, contributing adults.

We should not be cutting our teachers,

we should be supplementing their staff. We should not be complaining about their so-called two months of vacation, we should be offering combat pay. We should not be losing the best and the brightest of this generation, because it is their calling to nurture the best and brightest of the next.

All teachers are important and necessary and all deserve respect, praise, and support. But the kindergarten teacher is the one who introduces our children to the world of learning, to the importance of rules and the equal importance of play. We all remember the book that came out some time ago that stated "All I ever really needed to know, I learned in kindergarten." It is so true - and all of those things the author learned in kindergarten, he learned from the kindergarten teacher.

Mary Reeves is the Neighbors editor

for the Star-News.