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Thank you matters. Thank a teacher today.

Editor's Note: This article is part of a series about North Carolina's teacher pipeline. We hope this collection of stories, research, reporting, podcasts, and perspectives will prompt a more nuanced look at the teacher pipeline across our state, identifying districts with healthy, adequate, and inadequate teacher supply. Please weigh in.

Every teacher anywhere in the world has most likely heard the very true statement that a child does not care how much you know until they know how much you care. It is a cliché, but it holds true. Parents want to know the person they are leaving their child with all day cares about their safety, well-being, and overall success. Children want the person who guides them all day each day to care for them. We all want to feel we matter.

Much talk and rhetoric is shared in the news, social media, and over meals about “education today.” Much of that talk comes from people who have never been teachers but either make decisions for those of us who are and/or have very strong opinions about a field they have never worked in for even one day.

Teaching is not a job for the weak. That’s for sure.

We know children matter. They are the reason behind every decision every effective educator makes. How often then, do districts throughout our nation and our state, consider the well-being of educators since they directly and significantly impact the well-being of our children?

In thinking about each district, is there an effective and consistent educator recognition plan in place? Most district leaders will assure the general public that there is. How can that effectiveness be gauged? With data disaggregation, charts, and diagrams? None of those are needed.

Simply talk to the educators within the district. Listen. Care. Be genuine. Be thankful.

Does teacher pay matter? Of course it does. Do small class sizes matter? Absolutely. Ask a teacher, though. Most, myself included, simply want to be thanked and appreciated. No parade or grand standing is necessary. Principals saying “thank you” to their staff and really meaning it matters. Superintendents sending words of encouragement and appreciation to educators who work well beyond job requirements goes a long way in retaining highly-qualified teachers. A phone call, email, invitation to a school board meeting all in an effort to say thank you to educators who love their jobs and are good at it are all free of cost but not done nearly enough. Pay us well? Sure. Support us in providing materials we need? Yep. Something that is also free and often even more effective? Say thank you for a job well done.

There is nothing like a teacher who loves children, loves what they do, and tries their best each and every day. 

To my fellow educators in the trenches each day, thank you. 

Andi Webb

Andi Webb is a teacher and mathematics coach at Alderman Road Elementary in Fayetteville. She is National Board Certified and is currently pursuing her Doctor of Education in Educational Leadership through East Carolina University. She is a Career Award for Science and Mathematics Teachers grant recipient through Burroughs Wellcome Fund.