Dear Kentucky Public School Teachers:
There are times when merely saying thank you doesn’t seem to be enough and this is certainly one of those times.
We pause each year at this time during National Teacher Appreciation Week to express our gratitude for the important work you do. Our words and the tokens of appreciation you might receive are never enough to sufficiently thank you for the important work that you do every day for the children of Kentucky.
This year, however, the words ring even more true yet seem even less adequate. At a time when you are going beyond what was expected of you and perhaps even beyond what you thought you were capable of to serve your students, it’s so important that you know that your work is appreciated far more than I can put into words.
Teaching was not my calling, but teachers have always been an important part of my life and in helping me find my calling. My mother spent 27 years as a teacher in the Garrard County schools, and when I think of those people who have had the greatest impact on my life other than my family, my former teachers are at the very top of the list.
I know that teaching is not so much a career as a passion, and that passion comes through every day when you give everything you have to support your students. It also shows in the afternoons and evenings when you give your students the extra attention they need or supervise the extracurricular activities they love. And it shows late at night when no one else can see you grading papers or planning lessons.
At no time, however, has that passion shined through quite like it has over the past several weeks during the COVID-19 emergency. You have completely shifted your instructional methods to non-traditional instruction to ensure your students are able to complete the school year, effectively reinventing your work in a matter of days.
When The Wall Street Journal recently reported that school districts in other states are ending the school year early because remote instruction was “too tough,” there was no mention of Kentucky in that story. That is a testament to a teaching force that I believe is the best in the country.
You have shown even before the current crisis that nothing is too tough for you if it means improving the lives of your students, and you’ve shown it over and over again in recent weeks. I have been deeply moved by the many examples I have seen of the ways that you have gone the extra mile for your students during this time, and I’m sure there are many more examples than we’ll ever see.
As the days and weeks of this most unusual school year grow short, I ask you to keep doing what you have been doing so well. These times have not been without discouraging days for all of us, but it is so important that you continue to do your best for your students – and that you remember to take a little time to take care of yourself along the way as well.
I’m sure there is no place you would rather be – professionally speaking, at least – than back in your classroom and surrounded by your students. If you were there this week, I know your students, schools and communities would be expressing their gratitude toward you in any number of ways. Many of the usual celebrations of Teacher Appreciation Week aren’t possible this year, but I’m confident that we will find new and different ways to applaud you for all you do.
At the Kentucky Department of Education, we applaud you today and every day. I think I can speak for everyone at the department when I say we are very proud to be a part of helping you prepare the children of Kentucky build a better future for themselves and for our Commonwealth.
As your commissioner and as a grateful former student, let me say thank you from the bottom of my heart. The entire Commonwealth appreciates your service, your sacrifice and your dedication.
Kevin C. Brown
To stay up to date on resources and news about what is going on in Kentucky’s education system related to COVID-19, make sure you check out KDE’s website regularly. The website contains vital information during this time of uncertainty, including frequently asked questions for parents and schools, new resources for educators and feeding sites in each district.