A Hard-Working Heart Beats Better When It’s Appreciated

This post goes out to all the teachers and staff at my children’s schools on the last day of Teacher and Staff Appreciation Week. Thank you!

Kelly, a teacher with a heart.

Kelly is my daughter Tessa’s band director at Conestoga Middle School. Over the course of this year, I’ve heard Kelly’s work through my daughter’s french horn as Tessa went from not knowing what a horn was to playing quite well and enjoying it.

Kelly works hard, long hours throughout the school year, like so many other teachers and staff do. As a band teacher, she not only is charged with teaching my 6th grade daughter how to play an instrument, she has to get all of my daughter’s classmates to play together, in time, and in tune.

I’ve understand the hours that a teacher puts in, so when Kelly made a special announcement this week, I asked her if I could put her story up as well as post her typical day’s schedule. Here is an encapsulated summary of what she sent me:

  • 7am – Arrive/preparation 
  • 7:30-8:45 – Honor Band (advanced) or Jazz Band
  • 8:50 – Students arrive
  • 9:05 – First class starts (8th Grade Band/Music Appreciation, 30 minute lunch, 7th grade band/music appreciation, 50 minutes planning -input grades, parent calls, order buses, organize fundraisers, lesson planning, 6th grade band)
  • 3:40-5:30 (Help struggling students, Lessons for students who mid-year transfers and students playing catch-up, Percussion class for 6th graders)    
  • 5:30-6:30 /7:00 (cleanup – sort music sheets, fix broken instruments, set out music sheets for the next morning’s honor band or jazz band.  Finish inputing grades).  

She has 12 different classes, 6 classes per day, for a total of 300 students. (Not to mention that she’s constantly raising money to help pay for her program.)

Stop and think about that for a second – 12 hours a day. 12 different classes. 300 students – That’s enough to make one’s heart stop.

And sadly, it did. Well, kind of. Kelly wrote to us last week saying she has been having severe episodes with her heart. The doctors are testing, but it appears that the stress of doing so much has started to adversely affect her heart. Fortunately, she’s been getting medical treatment to figure out and fix what is going on, including help from, ironically, from a rhythm doctor (her joke).

Although, she’s being cared for and is getting crazy-good support from everyone, and we hope that everything’s going to turn out ok, it underscores the kind of work ethic that is on diplay everyday at our schools. Teachers like Kelly are working tremendous hours and going far beyond the basics to give kids opportunities to learn and grow.

Schools are the brunt of so many people. Albeit some with good intentions, but nonetheless the brunt. From the outside, it’s hard to see the long hours, the demanding requirements, the results of constant budget-cutting, and the thankless task of trying to corral 30-50 twelve-year-olds. I’ve heard a lot of well-meaning parents bemoan the state of education, wishing “somebody” would do something, wishing “somebody” would have a heart and care enough fix it.

“Somebody” does. It’s people like Kelly that show up everyday, doing the best they can, and getting results. With her permission, I’m posting her story of unsung hard work here as both a tribute to her own efforts and all the teachers who put in those long, long days.

It’s the last day of Teacher and Staff Appreciation Week. It’s not too late — Correction, it’s never too late to thank a teacher. Write a thank-you note, send flowers, ask if they need anything, donate to a fundraiser, listen, or just give an honest and sincere thanks.

It just might do a teacher’s heart some good.

Take care of yourself, Kelly. And thanks!

Today’s gift of time … Donated a few more Starbucks gift cards for teacher appreciation week. 

About Eric Winger

Our perception of time is key to how we use our time. The most fundamental way to change that perception is to give our time. This opens us up to new opportunities and ideas from which we can build to really make a difference. ... Yes, we *do* have time to make a difference!
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