I am a Teacher.
I was born the first moment that a question leaped from the mouth of a child.
I have been many people in many places.
I am Socrates exciting the youth of Athens to discover new ideas through the use of questions.
I am Anne Sullivan tapping out the secrets of the universe into the outstretched hand of Helen Keller.
I am Aesop and Hans Christian Andersen revealing truth through countless stories.
I am Marva Collins fighting for every child's right to an education.
I am Mary McCloud Bethune building a great college for my people, using orange crates for desks.
And I am Bel Kaufman struggling to go Up The Down Staircase.
The names of those who have practiced my profession ring like a hall of fame for humanity…Booker T. Washington, Buddha, Confucius, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Leo Buscaglia, Moses and Jesus.
I am also those whose names and faces have long been forgotten but whose lessons and character will always be remembered in the accomplishments of their students.
I have wept for joy at the weddings of former students, laughed with glee at the birth of their children and stood with head bowed in grief and confusion by graves dug too soon for bodies far too young.
Throughout the course of a day I have been called upon to be an actor, friend, nurse and doctor, coach, finder of lost articles, money lender, taxi driver, psychologist, substitute parent, salesman, politician and a keeper of the faith.
Despite the maps, charts, formulas, verbs, stories and books, I have really had nothing to teach, for my students really have only themselves to learn, and I know it takes the whole world to tell you who you are.
I am a paradox. I speak loudest when I listen the most. My greatest gifts are in what I am willing to appreciatively receive from my students.
Material wealth is not one of my goals, but I am a full-time treasure seeker in my quest for new opportunities for my students to use their talents and in my constant search for those talents that sometimes lie buried in self-defeat.
I am the most fortunate of all who labor.
A doctor is allowed to usher life into the world in one magic moment. I am allowed to see that life is reborn each day with new questions, ideas and friendships.
An architect knows that if he builds with care, his structure may stand for centuries. A teacher knows that if he builds with love and truth, what he builds will last forever.
I am a warrior, daily doing battle against peer pressure, negativity, fear, conformity, prejudice, ignorance and apathy. But I have great allies: Intelligence, Curiosity, Parental Support, Individuality, Creativity, Faith, Love and Laughter all rush to my banner with indomitable support.
And who do I have to thank for this wonderful life I am so fortunate to experience, but you the public, the parents. For you have done me the great honor to entrust to me your greatest contribution to eternity, your children.
And so I have a past that is rich in memories. I have a present that is challenging, adventurous and fun because I am allowed to spend my days with the future.
I am a teacher…and I thank God for it every day.
John W. Schlatter
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