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Teachers, bus drivers earn appreciation

Teachers, bus drivers and all the other dedicated men and women on the frontlines in our schools deserve a great deal of thanks and support for all they do to educate, nurture and keep our children safe.

Their efforts not only help to better young people’s lives, but are critical to building an education system in Ohio that prepares students to compete in today’s workforce and helps lead our state to future economic prosperity.

May 3-7 was National Teacher Appreciation Week, an opportunity to recognize the thousands of outstanding teachers in Ohio and across the country for their work in and out of the classroom to promote learning and improve their communities. As many school districts near summer break, I encourage parents and students to take a moment to thank their teachers for all their hard work and contributions this past year.

Educators are handed a herculean responsibility of not only teaching our students, but helping to shape their character. This is done with many obstacles and with much second-guessing, but these professionals care deeply about their mission and want to see their students succeed. Many teachers go above and beyond what is asked of them to accomplish this goal, tutoring students before and after school or encouraging kids to contact them in the evenings and on weekends with questions about homework or an upcoming exam. Too often, we take for granted the noble efforts of our educators while focusing on the shortcomings or conflicts of a few.

Teachers have many requirements they have to fulfill in order to continue teaching. For instance, the most recent state budget implemented a new four-tiered approach for how educators are licensed in Ohio. Beginning in 2011, new teachers will be given a four-year, non-renewable

resident educator license and will be required to participate in the Ohio Teacher Residency Program, which will include mentoring by veteran teachers, professional development counseling and tools to allow new teachers to measure their progress. Once completed, teachers can apply for a five-year, renewable, professional educator license. There is also a five-year, senior professional educator license for teachers who have earned a master’s degree and previously held a professional educator license, as well as a five-year, lead professional educator license for teachers who have their master’s degree and hold a valid certificate from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards or meet other professional criteria.

Many teachers also spend a lot of money out of their own pockets to purchase classroom supplies and do other things for their students.

My children have had many good teachers growing up in the Wellston City Schools. I urge parents to be involved in their children’s education. Do not be afraid to ask questions and talk to other parents. Most educators appreciate it when parents or guardians are engaged and show interest in what their child is learning.

This past week was also School Bus Driver Appreciation Day in Ohio, which is celebrated annually on the first Monday in May in recognition of the more than 20,000 bus drivers across our state who work to safely transport students to and from school each day.

School bus drivers must have nerves of steel. I have a lot of memories of racing to catch the bus when I was a kid. One time in high school, I was running as hard as I could, fell, and began rolling down a hill, tearing my jacket and my clothes. I was bleeding, but I got up and kept running. My classmates on the bus were impressed. I acted like it was no big deal, but it really hurt.

To all those working with our students to make sure they have a productive, clean and healthy educational environment, thank you!

John A. Carey is a member of the Ohio Senate and represents the 17th District. He can be reached at Ohio Senate, Statehouse, Columbus, Ohio 43215 or by phone at (614) 466-8156.