Letters to the editor

Published 1:42 pm Monday, August 8, 2005

By Staff
Teachers are real heroes for today
To the Editor:
Randy Winton
Student Minister, First Baptist Church
You Want Heroes?
By Frosty Troy
society's shortcomings on public education.
Too many people are looking for heroes in all the wrong places. Movies stars
and rock musicians, athletes and models aren't heroes, they're celebrities.
Heroes abound in public schools, a fact that doesn't make the news.
There is no precedent for the level of violence, drugs, broken homes, child abuse, and crime in today's America. Public education deals with these problems every day.
You want heroes?
Consider Dave Sanders, the school teacher shot to death while trying to shield his students from two Neo-Nazi youth on a bombing and shooting rampage at Columbine High School in Littleton, Colo.
Sanders gave his life, along with 12 students, but other less heraldedheroes survived the Colorado blood bath.
You want heroes?
Columbine special ed teacher Robin Ortiz braved gunfire, moving fromclassroom to classroom, shouting at students and teachers to get out of the
building. His action alone cleared the east side of the high school. No one will ever know how many lives he saved.
You want heroes?
For Ronnie Holuby, a Fort Gibson, Okla., middle school teacher, it was a routine school day until gunfire erupted. He opened a door to the school
yard and two students fled past him. A 13-year old student had shot five other students when Holuby stepped outside, walking deliberately toward the boy, telling him to hand over the
gun. He kept walking. Finally the boy handed him the gun. Holuby walked the boy to the side of the building, then sought to help a wounded girl.
You want heroes?
Jane Smith, a Fayetteville, N.C., teacher, was moved by the plight of one of her students, a boy dying for want of a kidney transplant. So this pretty white woman told the family of this handsome 14-year old black boy that she
would give him one of her kidneys. And she did. When they subsequently appeared together hugging on the Today Show, even tough little Katie Couric
was near tears.
You want heroes?
Doris Dillon dreamed all her life of being a teacher. She not only made it, she was one of those wondrous teachers who could wring the best out of every single child. One of her fellow teachers in San Jose, Calif., said "she could teach a rock to read."
Suddenly she was stricken with Lou Gehrig's Disease, which is always fatal, usually within five years. She asked to stay on the job-and did. When her voice was affected she communicated by computer.
Did she go home? She is running two elementary school libraries. When the
disease was diagnosed, she wrote the staff and all the families that she and one last lesson to teach – that dying is part of living. Her colleagues named her Teacher of the Year.
You want heroes?
Bob House, a teacher in Gay, Ga., tried out for Who Wants to be a Millionaire. After he won the million dollars, a network film crew wanted to follow up to see how it had impacted his life. New cars? Big new house?
Instead, they found both Bob House and his wife still teaching. They explained that it was what they had always wanted to do with their lives and
that would not change. The community was both stunned and gratified.
You want heroes?
Last year the average public school teacher spent $468 of their own money for student necessities – workbooks, pencils – supplies students had to have but could not afford. That's a lot of money from the pockets of the most poorly paid teachers in the industrial world. The average teacher works more hours in nine months than the average 40-hour employee does in a year.
You want heroes?
For millions of kids, the hug they get from a teacher is the only hug they will get that day because the nation is living through the worst parenting in history. Many have never been taken to church in their lives.
A Michigan principal moved me to tears with the story of her attempt to rescue a badly abused little boy who doted on a stuffed animal on her desk
one that said "I love you!" He said he'd never been told that at home.
This is a constant in today's society; two million unwanted, unloved, abused children in the public schools, the only institution that takes them all in.
You want heroes?
Visit any special education class and watch the miracle of personal interaction, a job so difficult that fellow teachers are awed by the dedication they witness.
There is a sentence from an unnamed source which says, "We have been so anxious to give our children what we didn't have that we have neglected to give them what we did have."
What is it that our kids really need? What do they really want? Math, science, history and social studies are important, but children need love, confidence, encouragement, someone to talk to, someone to listen, standards to live by.
Teachers provide upright examples, the faith and assurance of responsible people. Kids need to be accountable to caring parents who will send well disciplined children to school. These human values are essential in a democracy - anything that threatens
them makes our whole society a little less free, our nation a little less strong.
These values can be neither created nor preserved without continuous effort and that effort must come from more than teachers who have students only six [to seven] hours of the day.
Despite the problems, public school teachers laugh often and much. They have the respect of intelligent people and the affection of students who care.
Teachers strive to find the best in their students, even where some see little hope. No other American bestows a finer gift than teaching - reaching out to the brilliant and the retarded, the gifted and the average.
Teachers leave the world a little bit better than they found it, knowing if they have redeemed just one life, they have done God's work.
They are America's unsung heroes!
(This article originally appeared in the Christmas 2001 edition of the Oklahoma Observer)

Email newsletter signup