Long Overdue

I often think that it’s time to start openly recognizing excellence in teaching.  There are few professions that struggle to compensate, honor, and support each person equally, in spite of obvious performance differences. It’s time to get over jealousy and hurt feelings. Dare I say that it’s time to more eagerly point out the best teachers, identify them as exemplars, and allow others to learn from watching them work?

It’s time we own our progress.  Celebrate it.  Or, recognize our areas for growth and own them, as well.

But, as we start this new school year, I know we are not there yet, and that topic is fodder for an entirely different post.  Today, I offer a raise of the proverbial glass and propose a moment to honor a special group of educators.  You know who they are; you can see their faces.  Maybe you see one of them when you look in the mirror.

For your students’ sake, I hope you do.

Here’s to those who may find themselves regularly working weekends, serving snow cones at a school event, tutoring on their own time because a child really needs it, attending a sporting event to show support, or eating lunch in the cafeteria with their class, just because.

Here’s to those who put in the time, teach from the heart, value children as people first, represent the profession, are lifelong learners and thus role models for their students, work collaboratively, greet students with an unwavering smile and high expectations, are flexible, challenge the status quo, refuse to accept failure from themselves or from their students, make personal connections, create lasting and permanent impressions, and teach with such a burning passion that the inherent curiosity of their class is ignited.

Here’s to the ones who never settle.  To the ones that refuse to lower the bar, yet ensure that every student gets over.

Here’s to the ones that go to the home, when the home won’t come to them.

Here’s to the best of the best: talent that we don’t deserve, but that our children do.

To you, and on behalf of the children who are fortunate enough to experience your dedication and talent, I say Happy New Year and thank you.

And, I do so quite openly.  It’s a recognition you deserve and one that is long overdue.



Mike Lee

Mike Lee

Phoenix, Arizona

I am the Director of Outreach and Engagement for The National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, and certified as a Middle Childhood Generalist in 2004. In 2012, I received my doctorate in educational leadership from Northern Arizona University, however, I began my work in education serving as a para-educator in a special education program while still an undergraduate. My passions in the field include assessment and reporting strategies, the evolving role of technology, teacher leadership, and effective professional development that permanently impacts instruction. I consider myself a professional teacher first, as well as a professionally evolving lifelong learner, who is incredibly fortunate to have the opportunity to impact the lives of children.

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