A phone call around midday Tuesday from Bryan County Board of Education Chairman Eddie Warren began with a question.
“When’s your deadline for Wednesday’s paper?” Warren asked. “I’ve got an open letter to the teachers of Bryan County.”
Warren was told the deadline for the News’ opinion page — which is where letters usually go — was already past, but there was still time to put together a story.
After all, it is Teacher Appreciation Week.
“We as a school board just wanted the teachers here to know how appreciated and valued they are,” said Warren, who can name two teachers from his days at Weaver High School in north Alabama who made an impression.
“I had Mrs. Williams who taught me English and psychology and Mr. Fincher who taught me history,” Warren said. “They were impactful.”
In fact, while administrators and school board members may devise policies and plans, at the end of the day it’s the teachers whose work matters most.
“As school board members, we’re a lot less impactful on education than a teacher is,” he said. “We make the big decisions, but teachers are the ones who have an impact on children. No one’s going to remember in 20 years I’m on the Board of Education, but they will remember their fourth-grade teacher or sixth-grade teacher, that teacher that had the biggest impact on them.”
There are certainly plenty of teachers in Bryan County to appreciate. Bryan County Schools are the single biggest employer in the county with more than 900 employees — between 400 and 500 of them are teachers.
The work of each is important, the BoE chairman said.
“Teachers are the ones on the front lines taking care of what needs to be done on a day-in, day-out basis,” said Warren, whose wife and daughters are educators. “My wife still sees people she taught in first or second grade that are grown now and have children, and they still remember her. School board members may get their names on plaques, but teachers are the ones who will be remembered.”
Here’s the letter:
“Teachers have their sights set on the real goal: not to produce Ivy League graduates, but to encourage the naturally curious, confident, flexible, and happy learners who are ready for whatever the future has in store.” — Taylor Mali
To All Bryan County Teachers:
We want to extend our thanks to you, especially during this Teacher Appreciation Week. We are grateful that you have chosen to work for Bryan County Schools. And we are grateful for the tireless job that you do every day.
We know the infinite value of great educators and the great impact you have on our Bryan County Students. Thank you for choosing to impact the future in such a profound way. You truly exemplify the Bryan County Schools commitment “to excellence and success in all we do.”
Eddie Warren, Board of Education Chair
Joe Pecenka, Vice Chair
Paine Bacon, District One
Dennis Seger, District Two
Amy Murphy, District Three
Marianne Smith, District Four
David Schwartz, District Five