Superintendent's Message: World Teachers' Day

As you are probably aware, there are a lot of special 'Days' of celebration in the field of public education throughout the school year in BC.  We have the National Day of Mourning, World Water Day, National Child Day, and May Day (to cite a 'local' example), just to name a few.

All of these days are important and it is proper and right that we take time out of our busy schedules to recognize and celebrate the significance of each of these when they occur.  Still, what troubles me about these days is that their impact tends to be rather fleeting, and that once we have acknowledged the event through either a moment of silence or some other brief gesture, we quickly return to the task-at-hand, and once again get caught up in the bustle of our daily 'to-dos' that seem to occupy us constantly.  I am as guilty of this reflex as anyone, and find that the 'tyranny of the urgent' often trumps the practice of thoughtful reflection and appreciation in my daily work.

I mention the foregoing as a prelude to saying a few words about World Teachers' Day which will take place on October 5th, here in New Westminster, throughout the province, and indeed in over 100 countries worldwide.  I would encourage you to take time out of your busy schedule to think about World Teachers' Day or to find out something about this important day of recognition for our teachers.  To offer some assistance in this pursuit, please allow me to share a few facts about this very significant day.

World Teachers' Day was created by UNESCO in 1994 and has been enacted every year for the past 18 years on October 5th to celebrate teachers worldwide.  UNESCO describes the purpose of World Teachers' Day as, "... representing a token of the awareness, understanding and appreciation displayed for the vital contribution that teachers make to education and development" and "... to acknowledge the crucial role that teachers play in building the future".

In learning about World Teachers' Day, I am struck by how affirming this mission statement is in terms of my own personal experience as Superintendent.  During my travels throughout the school district here in New Westminster, I am constantly in awe of the work that our teachers are doing with our students in their classrooms and continue to be inspired by their unwavering commitment to providing the best life chances for our kids, day in and day out.  Even in the midst of the most challenging of circumstances, (e.g., limited financial resources, behaviour challenges, etc.), this commitment remains undiminished.

And so, for these reasons and more, I am very pleased that an international level of recognition exists for teachers that serves to acknowledge the critical role they play in the intellectual, social, and emotional development of our students - both here and around the globe.  As such, the personal commitment I am making (and I hope you make it, too) is to push back against the inclination to think about World Teachers' Day, along with all the other so-called special 'Days' in merely a fleeting or fanciful way, and instead, committing to delve more deeply, to be more thoughtful, and to find a truly genuine way to express that appreciation each and every day, no matter how large or small.

In doing so, we will provide a human link back to the intent of a 'celebratory' day such as World Teachers' Day that serves to strengthen the core purpose that lies at the heart of this recognition in a truly sincere and affirming fashion.