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Why Teachers Should Be 'Persons of the Year'

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Time Magazine recently announced that Mark Zuckerberg was selected as their "Person of the Year." It seems a rather peculiar choice, since not only is Facebook "old hat" but also because Facebook has not been the best player in regards to user privacy.

So I have my own end of the year suggestion for Time Magazine -- how about making teachers the "Person of the Year"?

Yes, teachers.

After 29 years in education, both as a teacher and librarian, I've known a great number of educators. And what I've seen demonstrated again and again by so many of my colleagues is how much, despite all the recent hype to the contrary, they care about children.

So instead of this being the year of software mega-giants or of the likes of Michelle Rhee or Davis Guggenheim, or the year of union-busting in education -- perhaps this should be the year we begin to honor and celebrate teachers.

Teaching is a complex job. There's the subject matter, which is complex in and of itself, there are the students, who are complex in all the ways every human being is, and there's the place in between where you figure out how to bring the two together for real understanding and growth. And, you could spend a lifetime as an educator honing your skills and still not master any one of these areas, no matter how dedicated you are. Being a teacher means reinventing yourself daily and annually to meet the needs of the students in front of you, whether it's figuring out a way to reach a particular student or learning the latest ways to connect your students to a global learning environment.

And so my heroes, my "Persons of the Year," are the teachers. Teachers like Diane Laufenberg, whose creative and authentic work with students in her classroom at the Science Leadership Academy in Philadelphia takes them out into the field to interview voters. Or teachers like Vicki Davis, who leads her middle school students to a better understanding of a global world. Or teachers like Karl Fisch, a technology specialist who, when brought back into the classroom, brought his talents to bear in rethinking what it means to teach Algebra in a wired world. Or teachers like Lee Kolbert, another returnee to the classroom, who agonized over navigating the path between the practical daily realities of the classroom and the ideals to which she hears around her. Principals like Chris Lehmann at the Science Leadership Academy, who leads his own advisory period with students like every teacher in his building.

Teachers, librarians, and counselors are there helping students because they care. And it's not just about the heroics either; it's about the quiet, day-to-day care and support that they give students. It's about the late hours, the way you live/eat/breathe teaching and the passion and dedication that you bring to what is almost an impossible job.

And so, I believe it is time for our nation to respect teachers, value them, and care about them. It's time for the nation to recognize those quiet heroes who care for all our children and do their best to reach them. It's time for our nation to acknowledge that although there are teachers who struggle, side by side with them are teachers who are quietly dedicated to students and performing the real heroics of raising up our children.

That, Time Magazine, is why I think teachers should be our "Persons of the Year."

Carolyn Foote blogs at Not So Distant Future.