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Editorial - Where would we be without good teachers?

With another school year entering its last quarter, now is a good time to pay tribute to the hard working, dedicated group of individuals who play such a vital role in preparing young people for the challenges ahead.

Teachers deserve our gratitude and appreciation for a job that is not only one of the most challenging career pursuits one can take but also one of the most impactful.

The importance of having good teachers shouldn't be lost on state lawmakers who are scrutinizing budget cuts that affect teacher health plans and retirement benefits.

Last week, a reader forwarded the newspaper an e-mail that told a story about just how important teachers are in a community. Although the original source of the information wasn't cited, the story, nonetheless, offers good insight about teachers and is well worth sharing. It goes like this:

Dinner guests were sitting around the table discussing life. One man, a CEO, decided to explain "the problem with education."

He argued, "What's a kid going to learn from someone who decided his best option in life was to become a teacher?"

He reminded the other dinner guests what "they" say about teachers: "Those who can, do. Those who can't, teach."

To emphasize his point he said to another guest, "You're a teacher, Lee. Be honest. What do you make?"

Lee, who had a reputation for honesty and frankness replied, "You want to know what I make?"

(He - or she - paused for a second, then began...) Well, I make kids work harder than they ever thought they could.

I make a C+ feel like the Congressional Medal of Honor.

I make kids sit through 40 minutes of class time when their parents can't make them sit for five without an I-pod, Game Cube or movie rental. You want to know what I make?"

He - or she - paused again and looked at each and every person at the table. "I make kids wonder. I make them question. I make them apologize and mean it. I make them have respect and take responsibility for their actions. I teach them to write and then I make them write. Keyboarding isn't everything. I make them read, read, read. I make them show all their work in math. They use their God-given brain, not just the man-made calculator. I make my students from other countries learn everything they need to know in English while preserving their unique cultural identity. I make my classroom a place where all my students feel safe. I make my students stand, placing their hand over their heart to say the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag, one nation under God, because we live in the United States of America. I make them understand that if they use the gifts they were given, work hard, and follow their hearts, they can succeed in life."

Lee paused one last time, then continued. "Then, when people try to judge me by what I make, with me knowing money isn't everything, I can hold my head up high and pay no attention to the intended disparagement because they are ignorant. You want to know what I make? I make a difference. What do you make, Mr. CEO?"

His jaw dropped and he went silent.