Good morning, afternoon, evening to all the Knight supporters out there. I would like to first thank everyone that has reached out to me to thank me for the articles I have been submitting. It’s always nice to feel appreciated and I’m grateful that the articles are being well received. It is my goal to continue writing and I hope it is informative and enjoyed by all.

This week I want to begin by discussing the challenges that educators are faced with and praise all that are overcoming those challenges in serving our students. I’ve expressed before that if you are looking for negativity you can certainly find it, and in many cases, you don’t have to look very hard. My objective is not to be negative, but rather praise those that continue to accept the challenges, adapt to the needs of students in this day and age and continue to serve.

I’m sure you have heard some of the challenges schools and educators are faced with during these times. We are faced with one of the largest educator shortages that I can remember. Numerous articles have been printed and published on the shortfall of qualified educators that are available. There have always been areas or subjects in the field of education that have been harder to fill than others, however, the current shortfalls are being felt across all subjects, and across all disciplines. These challenges and shortages are especially being felt in some of our more rural school districts across the State. In working closely with area colleges the number of candidates that are entering into the field of education, both teachers and administrators, are continuing to show a decline. Many districts are faced with high burnout amongst their staff. In talking with fellow superintendents, principals, and teachers from our district, around the area, and around the State this burnout is impacting all educators in a multitude of ways. The demands and challenges that educators face are very different from the challenges of the past. Many are being asked to serve in roles they haven’t been properly trained for and are being asked to serve the needs of students that they are not equipped to properly handle. The desire to serve is there but many feel like they are failing due to the demands on their time and the complexity of the needs to be addressed. These issues are ever-present and are beginning to overwhelm many in the field of education. And finally, although schools have appeared to return to “normal”, the pandemic and all that came with that experience has left us with additional challenges. Challenges relate to increased mental health concerns, attendance concerns, and in some cases a sense of complacency.

While these are only a few of the concerns that educators face, I promised this article was not meant to focus on the negative. The purpose of this article is to celebrate. Celebrate the educators in this district and in districts across this great country. Celebrate those that are accepting the great responsibility of educating our future generations. I am of course biased, but I believe accepting the challenge of educating our youth is one of the most important and vital components to the continued success of our country. 

I’d like to once again praise our staff, students, and communities for all they sacrificed and how they banned together to make the best out of our experience with the Pandemic. The challenges that were overcome and the cooperation that was demonstrated by all involved should continue to be celebrated and never forgotten. We were able to redefine what educating our students looked like and we were able to forge ahead, still making progress and in many cases thriving. That success is a direct result of the professionalism, dedication and passion our staff, and communities demonstrated and for that, I will be forever grateful. 

In our district, I continue to be appreciative of all of our educators. They continue to put students first and put in the work that needs to be done to best serve our students and communities. Every day is not smooth and every day is not perfect, but our staff continues to learn, grow, adapt and serve the students every single day. It’s a huge responsibility but one that comes with great reward. I’m sure that if each one of you pauses, thinks back to those that have impacted your life in a positive way, at least one of those individuals, or maybe even several of them were educators. They helped mold the person you are today and helped shape what you stand for on a daily basis. Nothing that I’ve mentioned up to this point has anything to do with standardized testing, test scores, performance in the classroom, etc. The educators in the district and across this country of course teach subjects, but they more importantly impact the lives of our youth. They instill the values and characteristics that help inspire, motivate and encourage the youth to become all that they want and more. I can fondly remember my favorite teacher growing up. My memories have nothing to do with how well they taught the concepts and principles of Economics. My memories are of how they made me feel valued and how they provided me the confidence to take that step to become what I am today. I will always remember and be grateful for the time, attention and grace Mr. Taylor extended to me during my high school experience.

So I close with this thought today. The first week of May is teacher appreciation week, but I’m writing this article ahead of time for a reason. We don’t need to wait until May to thank an educator. We don’t have to wait until a designated day to give thanks. This is my formal thank you to the educators and I am categorizing everyone that works in the school setting as an educator. I extend my gratitude and thanks for the dedication you provide our students and communities. Thank you for wrapping your arms around the students, influencing them in a positive way, and motivating them to be the best version of themselves. Your efforts, passion and dedication to molding, impacting and positively influencing our youth does not go unnoticed. So, to Mr. Taylor, my high school Business teacher and to all the teachers across our district and country, thank you. Have a great rest of the week and go Knights!

Mr. Shannon Cheek