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By Gera Summerford, TEA President
We have all heard the saying, “It takes a village to raise a child.” That statement is as applicable today as it was when it was first shared centuries ago in an African proverb. Many people make up your village, and it is important to recognize their contributions to your child’s life.
As a mother of two young adults, I had two villages – one for each child. Family members, friends, teachers, coaches and many others all played a part in making my children into the successful, well-rounded adults they are today.
Just like parents, teachers can’t do it all either. A child’s academic village is a huge part of their success in school. American Education Week is the perfect opportunity to thank the many people who impact your child’s education.
We are fortunate in Tennessee to have qualified, caring teachers in our classrooms. If you talk to a teacher about their work, you will often hear them refer to their students as “my kids”. These men and women are deeply committed to the success of every child who comes through their door.
In addition to teachers, there are many other people in your child’s school who are invested in your student’s success. Administrators work tirelessly to create and maintain the best possible learning environment for students. Education support professionals work hard assisting teachers, keeping school safe and clean, serving nutritious meals, getting your child to school safely, caring for them in the clinic, and in numerous other roles.
A student’s academic village is bigger than just their school building, too. Parents, community members and elected officials all play important roles. Parents build the foundation for a student’s respect and love of learning. The most successful students are often those with parents who are engaged in their education and who reinforce at home what the child learns at school.
Community members and elected officials can influence academic achievement even though many may never step into a classroom or interact directly with students. For educators to be their very best, they need the support of the communities they serve and the elected officials who represent them.
In honor of American Education Week, I hope you will take time to celebrate the great things happening in our schools and the wonderful people who are working hard to see your student succeed.
Please join me in thanking all of the “villagers” who empower our students to reach their full potential.
Gera Summerford is a high school math teacher in Sevier County who currently serves as president of the Tennessee Education Association. TEA is the state’s largest professional organization representing over 46,000 elementary and secondary teachers, school administrators, education support professionals, higher education faculty and students preparing to become teachers.