Letter: What teachers make is a difference

Dear Editor,

I am a member of CUPE Local 1260 and an Administrative Assistant at R.E. Mountain Secondary, and have had the distinct pleasure of working for the past 25 years with some awesome teachers.

On Friday, I was beginning the task of creating new files in preparation for the new school year, when I came across a lovely little book, titled, “What Do You Make?”

It was a book for and about teachers, by Tom Hierck, with illustrations by Anne DeGrace, an adaptation of an original poem by Taylor Mali.  

I took a few minutes to read the book, reflecting on this gift that was presented to staff a few years ago by our school administrators at the beginning of the school year.

Here are some excerpts, while simple, in my opinion, profound.

Mr. Hierck writes, “The dinner guests were seated around a table discussing Public Education. One man, a CEO, decided to explain the problem.

“‘What’s a kid going to learn,” he argued “from someone who decided the best option in life was to become a teacher?”

“You’re a teacher, Kristin, he said. “Be honest. What do you make?”

“I make kids work harder than they every though they could.”

“I can make a C+ feel like an Olympic gold medal for the student who gave it everything – and an A- feel like a knot in the stomach, if the effort wasn’t the very best it could be.”

“I make kids apologize, because they know it’s the right thing to do.”  

“I make them write. I make them read, read, read.”

“I make kids wonder, I make them question, I make them criticize with a view towards improving a situation.”

“I make them show all their work in math and hide it all on the final draft of their English essay.”

“I immerse them in music and art and the joy of performance, so their lives are rich, full of kindness and culture, and they take pride in themselves.”

“I make them spell ‘believe’ and ‘success’ over and over again – ‘I believe in myself, success is for everyone!’”

“I make them understand that if you have the brains (and they all do) – then follow your heart.”

“And if anyone ever tries to judge you by what you make – you pay them no attention.”

“I’m a teacher and I make a difference.”

Teachers do make a difference, and deserve to be treated fairly by the government, as do all school employees. We are all suffering during this turmoil.

It is high time for the minister of education and the premier to put their hearts together for a fair resolve to these current negotiations, because it is the right thing to do.

Donna Mason, President CUPE Local 1260 Langley Schools

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