Mrs. Smith taught me to read. Mrs. VanHooton encouraged and fed my veracious appetite for books.
Mrs. Doening and a multitude of others prepared me for college.
Annette St. Clair and Tom Simpson taught me how to study and their uber hard tests prepared me for graduate school.
Chad Stebbins opened my world and helped me find my career.
Mike Gullett forever changed how I look through a camera lens.
From elementary to graduate school and beyond, my life has been impacted by teachers.
Technically, teachers have shaped my entire world since birth. My mom, grandma, and three aunts, were all educators.
Educators have made me who I am, as a journalist, photographer and as a person.
I’m not alone. From Cleora, Grove and Turkey Ford, and all points throughout northeast Oklahoma, teachers make a difference in the lives of countless students every day.
Teachers step in front of classrooms in this county, knowing they do so not for a high paying salary, but rather out of a sense of duty.
For many educators, teaching is less of a job and more of a calling.
That’s why the proposed walk out, set to start on Monday, April 2, is both difficult and challenging.
On one hand, it’s a call to action.
Teachers (and service personnel) are not only asking for a raise in pay, but they are asking for education to be given the high priority it deserves – and funded thus so – by our state officials.
On the other hand, it has the possibility of hurting the very students teachers love.
It means some students may not have a place to go while mom and dad work, thus spending the day at home alone, regardless of age.
It means others may not have two hot meals – something they depend upon each day for nutrition.
It means teachers are putting themselves before their students – something many educators find unnatural.
Teaching is more than just a profession.
For many educators, the long hours spent preparing lessons and standing before a classroom, are worth it – especially as the light bulb moments go on for a student struggling with the various subjects.
Teachers teach, not to cash in a paycheck, but rather, to impact the lives of their students each day.
On April 2, life will change for Delaware County students.
Some, like those in Grove, Jay and Kansas, will find themselves staying home for what may be a lengthy period of time.
Others, like students in Cleora and Moseley, will watch as their teachers spend one day at the Capitol en mass on April 2, teaching the legislators about the importance of educators – only to return home to the classroom the following day.
Then even as the teachers continue to educate their students, others from the district will be delegated to spend time in Oklahoma City, working for a change.
Others, like those in Turkey Ford, have decided to remain open, all while sending delegates to the capital. The decision made unanimously out of concern for the district's students' wellbeing.
No matter what the county's teachers choose to do, hundreds of students’ lives will be disrupted at a crucial point in the school year.
Educators provide an important role in our society. They literally train the next generation with each lesson and test.
Without teachers, our world would be a desolate place.
Educators open the doors to world of students living in Grove, Cleora, Turkey Ford, Kenwood, Kansas, Colcord, Oaks, Moseley, Leach and Jay, to life beyond the borders of Delaware County, the state of Oklahoma and even the United States.
Without educators, students might never learn about things like the space race, civil rights, the holocaust or even the cold war. Vital lessons from the past, which help shape the future.
Better than Google and Siri, teachers are not only there to answer questions, but point students in a direction which allows them to make their own discoveries and form their own opinions.
It’s time to acknowledge what teachers do in Delaware County and throughout Oklahoma.
It’s time to realize our state is only as strong as our rising generation of students – and the teachers who stand in the educational gap of their collective learning.
Like our nation’s motto reads, the educational system in Oklahoma is only as strong, and united, when we stand together. When the education system has cracks, we all fall, divided and remain in last place in the nation in educational funding and excellence.
What will you do, to show your support to the teachers in Delaware County and Oklahoma?
This is a chance to not only support them by calling legislators, but simply renew our respect and trust in the front-line warriors, who give their lives to our community’s children.
Thank you to the teachers who made me who I am. For that, I owe you a lifetime of gratitude.
Kaylea M. Hutson-Miller is the managing editor of The Grove Sun and Delaware County Journal. Have an idea for a column or story? She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 918-786-2228.