A Teacher to Be Missed

One day last spring, my 8-year-old son asked me what private schools were. I told him that private schools were often schools where parents paid for their children's schooling. I went on to say that these schools often had teachers with higher schooling and experience and could offer kids a higher quality education than public schools. This past year, I found that is not necessarily true.

In last Sunday's Extra, I read a letter ["An Ex-Teacher's Lament"] about a teacher who left teaching in the public schools in Loudoun County to find a higher paying job to support his family of four. The education of our children is a task for both parents and teachers together. It is often the teachers that provide the positive spark for children to learn for themselves. We need to recognize the importance of this job and compensate accordingly.

It is a rare teacher indeed who can keep students always busy and never bored. Such a teacher is one who has as much fun learning as he does teaching. This teacher is a role model for his students and even for their parents. He has the courage to pitch a tent in the middle of a classroom for a month and even conduct classes in the tent during this time. And at the end of the school year, he even goes so far as to bridge the gap by taking the entire class and their families on a camping trip. He requests that no radios, portable tape and CD players or personal computers be brought on this trip. This teacher is not afraid to challenge his kids beyond their comfort zones and beyond their age and intellect.

I had a teacher like this in high school. He taught a controversial class called humanities. The one thing I learned from this class was how to think for myself. I use that skill to this day. I wonder what salary he earned. It was not likely equivalent in value to what I learned from him.

To be a role model as a teacher or parent, it is up to us to model our own lives for our children by showing them how to be excited about life. That is when learning occurs at its best. It becomes effortless when it is fun and not a chore.

My son completed an astounding year this past spring with just such a teacher. To say that only private schools have the best teachers is not accurate. Such an excellent year could not have been bought anywhere. It is sad that this teacher had to quit teaching here because he could not support his family. That teacher was Ron Bierman, the teacher who wrote last week's letter. My son was in his class. Our prayers are with him for he will be missed and was a rare teacher indeed.