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Ramona Gia

Day of the Teacher is celebrated on the second Wednesday of May in accordance with California legislation and the education code. In 1982 the California Teachers Association and the Association of Mexican American Educators sponsored an Assembly Bill proclaiming the Day of the Teacher patterned after the traditional El Dia del Maestro festivities, which is observed in Mexico and Latin American countries. The California Education code specifies that the day should involve exercises commemorating and directing attention to teachers and the teaching profession. This year, Day of the Teacher is Wednesday.

Teachers need this day to draw attention to their contributions to our democratic society. School is where we begin to learn to cooperate, take turns, listen and show respect for oneself and others. Gradually other skills needed to succeed are introduced by teachers: reading, writing, listening, speaking, counting, solving problems, learning about the wonders of the world and how to live in it. Teachers are not baby sitters. We are humans who are committed to helping toddlers, children, adolescents and young adults make sense of life. Our task is to take another human, sometimes as many as 35 or more at one time, and lead them to progress as far as possible in limited time.

Teachers are lifelong learners. We are always looking for ideas, research and ways to help our students succeed. We especially remember and honor other teachers who have qualities and skills they demonstrate and share. In my experience, kindergarten teacher Winnie Brigham showed me that children love schedule and rules if they are provided love and practice. Fresno State language arts teacher Carl Miller taught me the joyful integration of the curriculum with fine arts. Music, Reader’s Theater, dramatic play, dance, poetry and especially children’s literature inspire young people and give them hope that they can succeed.

No two teachers are alike, and like the students we teach we have different past experiences, interests and abilities. We use those attributes to meet each day with its hundreds of split-second decisions, and happenings of our own making and those happenings we cannot control. We are always aware that we are important to the faces we see. Those faces expect to have a safe environment, a comfortable and loving atmosphere and a joyful and informative day every day.

I cherish my years with the Bakersfield City School District. Teaching is not a job. It is a profession that needs the best people that society produces. It is difficult, sometimes depressing, always challenging, always fulfilling. There is no better work. It is a sacred calling, and I am privileged to have experienced 24 years in it. Take a moment and remember that teacher who made a difference in your life and is still a part of you.

To all Kern County teachers, Happy Day of the Teacher. May your day be filled with an outpouring of the love and respect that you so deserve.

Ramona Gia is a retired teacher. She can be reached at rgia724@gmail.com.