I like teachers. They’re my favorite people. They work long hours, are up early preparing for classes, on their feet most of the day, grading papers and writing lesson plans late into the night, and they often spend their own money to help their students.

Add to this the extracurricular activities: sports events, performances, contests, parties and dances. They’re almost always underpaid and too often underappreciated.

My wife is a retired public school teacher who poured her life into kindergarten, elementary and high school students. Her last assignment was a dropout prevention program for pregnant and parenting teens. Her goals were to help them have a healthy birth, learn to be good parents, stay in school, earn a degree and have a future. She loved her students and helped them achieve a 98 percent graduation rate.

Teachers are our pandemic heroes. Many have made the drastic adjustments to teach remotely using Zoom, FaceTime and social media. Others have borne the risk of exposure to teach classes in person. According to a CBS news report in September 2020, a 34-year-old special education teacher, AshLee de Marinis died in Missouri after contracting COVID-19 and spending three weeks in the hospital. A 28-year-old teacher in South Carolina, Demi Bannister, was diagnosed on a Friday and died on that following Monday.

No one knows how many teachers have lost their lives to COVID, though the American Federation of Teachers reports at least 530. According to a Jan. 29 New York Times report, “Educators lost to the coronavirus in recent weeks include a married couple who taught at public schools in Grand Prairie, Texas, and died within hours of each other; an art teacher in Fayetteville, North Carolina, whose students left her personal messages on a memorial outside the school; and Bobby Hulse, a 76-year-old principal in Arkansas, who died on Wednesday after contracting the virus. Hulse was known for his love of basketball, his bright shirts and ties and for affectionately calling everyone ‘chief.’”

All of us can remember one or more teachers who made a difference in our lives, someone who took the time to encourage us, tutor us, help us get past the hurdles and find the open doors to our future.

Jesus was the master teacher.

Matthew said, “He went throughout Galilee teaching in the synagogues and proclaiming the good news of the kingdom. ... the crowds were amazed at his teaching,” (Matthew 4:23, 7:28).

His stories, like the Prodigal Son and the good Samaritan have inspired, instructed and shaped generations. He taught by example. He demonstrated love, compassion, forgiveness and acceptance never seen before or since. And, at the fullness of time, he gave his own life as ransom for many.

I look forward to the day when we’re able to look at the pandemic in our rearview mirror. But for now, we need to encourage one another, especially our teachers. We need to cheer them on and pray for them as they pour their lives into the hearts and minds of our children and youth. I’m hoping that our educators will be moved to the front of the line to receive the COVID vaccine soon.

Bill Tinsley reflects on current events and life experiences from a faith perspective. Order his free e-book “Bold Springs a Civil Way Novel” on Amazon through Sunday. Email bill@tinsleycenter.com.

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(5) comments

Bailey Jones

[thumbup]

Gary Miller

Very little of this story is true during the covid pandemic. The only teachers who should get the shots should be those back in class teaching. Paying teachers to stay home should be illegal. As long as they use the covid as an excuse and keep being paid they will not go back to class.

Gary Scoggin

Gary M - You seem to have a very low opinion of most other people.

Carlos Ponce

Texas teachers are doing fine. They'll get their vaccines at the right time.

Ted Gillis

But you won’t correct Gary. You just let him get away with stupid and untrue comments about teachers.

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