Today is National Teacher Appreciation Day. Both of my parents were educators. In fact I had my own mother as my Kindergarten teacher, and then my dad was one of my high school teachers and my basketball coach. My mother would later obtain her doctorate and help train other teachers. I even married  a teacher. I am who I am today because of the influence and impact certain teachers had on me. Hal Denton, June Jones, Jack Sallee, Harold Bennett, Dr. Wilhelm, Dr. Weinrauch, and so many more who invested in me.

I look at what teaching requires of someone today in term of passion, patience, determination, and sacrifice- and I figure I would last 10 minutes as a teacher before losing it. But they practice their craft day after day, most in a fair amount of obscurity, because that’s what they feel called to do.

Most people have no idea the amount of paperwork, after class work, and additional time teachers have to put in outside of the actual class room time.

Because of my own son’s special needs, and through my work leading a special needs ministry, I have become very familiar with many special education teachers and support personnel in our system.

They toil away determined to do the best they can for every child within the limited finances, time, services, and resources available. There is only so much of each to go around and they do their best to serve all our special needs students.

They are sometimes forgotten by the PTO or other groups that tend to focus on the traditional classrooms and needs. They are an afterthought. They fight for resources, and believe it or not, they fight for your kids. They can be your child’s champions, advocates, and cheerleaders.

And here is the crazy part. They chose to do this! They chose to be special education teachers and workers!

An IEP does not have to be a four-letter word. It is not us (parents) against them. It is a partnership between us, both wanting the best for the child, and trying to determine what that looks like inside an imperfect system.

Now some of you reading that are saying, “but you don’t know about what we’ve experienced. Let me tell you...”

Listen when I meet a perfect parent, then I will believe in a perfect teacher. Feel free to drop your stones at this point.

Teachers need affirmation and encouragement just like you do. Teachers need to feel like what they do matters to someone. Just like you. Teachers need respect, just like you do. Teachers work hard for your child’s best interests, just like you.

I’m so passionate about this that I decided my organization would adopt  our county special education department. All 250 of them.

When you see your child’s teachers this week, take a moment to give them a word of encouragement, thanks, or affirmation.

They really could use it right now. Just like you.