Public Education Supporters Give Thanks

By Cynthia McCabe

Before buying the canned pumpkin, madly scrubbing the house before mother arrives (how does she always find those dustbunnies?), or helping the little ones memorize “Five Little Turkeys,” America’s public school educators and supporters sat down at their computers the week before Thanksgiving and shared why they’re grateful for public schools.

They, along with dozens of their colleagues, wrote as part of NEA’s “I’m Thankful for Great Public Schools” effort, while many more shared the notes with their friends on Facebook. Their notes on NEA Today’s Facebook page were as varied as the schools in which they work and their own experiences as proud public school products or parents.

“I love this positivity being poured out towards our public schools! There are so many teachers and administrators taking wonderful and innovative steps to help our students. Thank you to all of you!” wrote Lora Kermode from Long Beach, Calif., in response to the campaign.

Educators’ notes on NEA Today’s Facebook page were as varied as the schools in which they work and their own experiences as proud public school products or parents:

I am thankful for the opportunity public education offers to meet new and interesting educators who are attempting to make a difference in the world.
Jennifer Kresge, St. Helena, Calif.

I am thankful for public magnet schools which were an earl, proactive approach to counteracting racial segregation and today are also addressing economic segregation!
Julie Pabian Abbker

I am very thankful for the fabulous students that I teach. Their eagerness to learn makes my days worthwhile.
Kirsten Kegley Morgan, Vacaville, Calif.

I am thankful for the job public school teachers do each day across the country. As I work with teachers in different schools in our school district, I see students’ eyes light up with the joy of learning and the love of being with their friends and teacher. No matter what the students face at home, at school they are accepted and the doors of their minds are opened to new ideas and skills.
Lorraine Bowen, Denver, Colo.

I taught 36 years in a great public school. It was a school that was a community in and of itself. Parents, students, teachers, ESPs, and community volunteers all worked together to create a positive and productive learning environment. My school consisted of caring individuals with creative talents and of core knowledge development and sharing that came from collaboration between its community members. Learning did not come from hours of standardized testing. Neither was the true learning occurring in my school reflected in the skewed statistics used for public relations purposes. My school focused on the student individual and the needs of the student to learn and succeed. Thanks Eastbrook Community Schools!
Rick Wright, Indianapolis, Ind.

Schools in Oregon like elsewhere are fighting to stay afloat. Teachers here are doing everything possible to make the education that our children and their children are getting the very best that they can get. We have outstanding teachers in the Roseburg, Oregon School System that, like elsewhere, go above and beyond. They donate time, take cuts in pay through loss days and freezes. But because of who they are, they still keep coming back each and every Monday.
Mike Bober, Roseburg, Ore.

Coming from a state where we are ranked 45th on the Report Card for American Education, I can proudly say that my public education has done wonders for me! I’m so thankful for my teachers that, despite lack of funding and support from our state, managed to give my peers and me an amazing education. I look forward to becoming a teacher myself one day soon and I can only hope to be half the inspiration they were to me!
Amber Gould, Phoenix, Ariz.

I feel honored that I have had a chance to teach my junior high students… for the last 22 years.
Andi Goettinger, Fullerton, Calif.

My public school put me on the path to becoming a teacher. Not to mention great lifelong friends were met in public schools.
Sean Brock, Leigh, Nebraska

I’m so thankful that, even in this difficult economy and having been RIFed from the same position twice, I’m still teaching. It has given me such tenacity for teaching and not taking any administrative, district, and community support for granted.
John Evans

I’m thankful for a school that provided me an environment that allowed me to grow as a student. A small pre-kindergarten through 12th grade; every child can find a place to fit in. This school gave me such a wonderful experience that I went on to become a teacher.
Gayle Renfrew

I’m grateful for public schools because I work in one that helps students overcome drug addiction and get an education at the same time.
Linda Horton

I am thankful that the union still exists. With people bashing our union daily and charter schools building momentum, I am thankful that the union hasn’t passed away.
Seth Wiznitzer

I am thankful for my public school because my kindergartner is learning how to read after just three months in school. She has quite a rich reading and sight word vocabulary. The math concepts she talks about are amazing. WOW!  I love my public schools!
Laura DeSimone

I am thankful for my great public school experiences in the Jefferson County school district in Fayette, Miss. and Alcorn State University which allowed me to be a dedicated special education teacher for 23 years.
Dot Newsome, Mississippi

I’m thankful that all children have the right to free, appropriate public education.
Sarah Vattuone, Novato, Calif.

I am thankful, as a teacher, for the opportunity to open students’ eyes to the greatness of the world around them, be it right in their backyard or halfway across the globe. May they all find exactly what they are looking for in life, no matter what it is.
Kara Schafer Stutzman, Detroit, Mich.

I’m thankful for working with an amazing group of supporting, hard-working intellectuals!
Brian Weiner

I am thankful to be part of a district that values educating the whole child. In these times of economic hardship, our district has continued to value music, PE and library education. Our students, most of whom live below the federal poverty line, have access to the education of more affluent districts because of our values. Thank you, David Douglas School District for recognizing that education is not only academic!
Alethea Fifield Mellor, Portland, Ore.