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Guest column: Those who teach give back to us all
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As the school year ends, the nation recognizes our teachers during this Teacher Appreciation Week. There is no more influential group to appreciate as teachers have touched the lives and impacted the futures of each one of us.

As one who works with teachers, I marvel at the work they do each day to positively impact the lives of students, families and a community. However, as we pause to say thanks to teachers for their dedication to preparing lessons and developing students, I want to express appreciation for all of those things that the general public never sees.

Thank you to teachers for being the first responder to every crisis or problem in our society. For example, teachers are required annually to complete 28 hours of training each year on Sexual Misconduct Reporting, Bloodborne Pathogens, FERPA, Mandated Reporting of Child Abuse, Copyright Laws, Parental Rights, Seclusion and Restraint, Human Trafficking, Bullying, and Safety and Crisis Plans. Sure to be added soon are Diabetes Response and Prevention of Childhood Obesity. Recent events and legislation has required additional training in Active Shooter response. Teachers are the lightning rods for our society’s problems.

A teacher receives an average of 35 emails from parents each day and six phone calls. Many teachers are called in the evenings at home. Parents expect an immediate response, so teachers spend hours long beyond their compensated work day to accomplish this.

Teachers also spend many hours voluntarily attending the games, concerts or performances of their students as part of establishing a relationship with the child and family. Teachers spend their own time and money to purchase shoes, eyeglasses and clothing for their students.

Teachers welcome elementary children at 6:30 a.m. each day and supervise their breakfast, tutor children before and after school on their own time and visit students’ homes when a child is sick or needs help. Our teachers’ cars are in the parking lot well into the evening hours because they are “staying late” to help a child or prepare a lesson or special activity.

Before the high stakes tests and exams at our high school, teachers hold Sunday study sessions. Our athletic coaches and sponsors of extracurricular events work way beyond the expected hours because they hold themselves to a standard of excellence that is part of the school district’s culture.

More than anything, a teacher’s job never ends at the end of the day or at the end of their 185 days paid contract. Their summers are spent in voluntary professional development or graduate school or working additional jobs. Consider the impact of good teachers on the quality of our community. Too often this work is overlooked or taken for granted. This week, please join me in paying tribute and saying thanks to the teachers in Gainesville and Hall County.

Merrianne Dyer is superintendent of Gainesville City Schools.

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