Mijares: Teacher Appreciation Month is a time to celebrate those who inspire others

May is designated as National Teacher Appreciation Month, and here in Orange County, we are incredibly fortunate to boast some of the most passionate, talented and committed teachers in the world.

The fact is, academic standards cannot optimally be achieved without the women and men who make it their life’s calling to be teachers. They guide our students along the educational paths from preschool through college, and their contributions far exceed the subjects they teach.

desk-of-al-smallOur county serves a significant percentage of students who are impacted by many obstacles and challenges, making it difficult to succeed in the classroom and envision a better life. While teachers cannot singlehandedly eradicate these problems, they can make a life-changing difference by establishing genuine personal connections with their students. It should therefore come as no surprise that when individuals are surveyed and asked to identity the greatest mentors of their lives, they inevitably mention teachers.

Indeed, despite managing a dizzying array of responsibilities and requirements, our best teachers lift students up, support them, encourage and help them develop their aptitudes and aspirations. They recognize their potential to change lives. 

The great American historian Henry Adams said it best: “A teacher affects eternity; he can never tell where his influence stops.” As such, a number of schools and districts planned festivities tied to Teacher Appreciation Week, which officially spanned May 4, and later this month the Orange County Department of Education will surprise a select group with the news that they’ve been named Orange County Teachers of the Year.

These events are worth celebrating, but we don’t have to wait until May to recognize our classroom teachers who made a major contribution in our lives – or who are making a difference in the lives of our children. A heartfelt thank-you goes a long way any time of year to motivate those who daily inspire others and bear the esteemed title of “teacher.”