By Melissa Merrell
Editor’s note: The following is a letter Melissa Merrell sent to teachers within Union County Public Schools in honor of Teacher Appreciation Day on May 5.
Fifty-five days and counting! Who could have ever imagined that March 11, 2020, would be the last time you walked into your classroom, turned on the lights and greeted your students as they arrived, one by one. Eye contact. Smiles. Laughter. Hugs. Your “tribe,” all together!
If there’s one profession that models, when the going gets tough, the tough get going, it’s teaching. We know the teaching profession is special, it’s a calling. Only those with the biggest heart, kindest, most selfless souls become a teacher. And I know beyond the shadow of doubt, this National Teacher Day will be like no other in your professional career! It will be a time of reflection, gratitude and growth. What do we miss most? What has remote learning taught me? How will my teaching evolve when the doors reopen?
May 5, 2020, will not be Teacher Appreciation Day that we envisioned or planned for. We will not be able to deliver small tokens of our appreciation to your classroom, decorate your door or brighten your desk with May flowers, or take lunch duty for you to enjoy lunch with your peers. It will be different. But, my hope is that every parent and student in Union County gets creative and finds a thousand different ways to say, Thank you! We miss you!
UCPS teachers are a gift to nearly 42,000 students, parents, our communities and the reason why so many families move to Union County for our schools. You are the heart of Union County Public Schools, and on behalf of the UCPS Board of Education, we say thank you! We are extremely proud of you and all that you have accomplished with remote learning at the drop of a hat. Until we can hug you again or offer an elbow, whatever this new norm gives us, I am confident in our teachers and your ability to adapt and do whatever it takes for our students.
Melissa Merrell chairs the Union County Public Schools Board of Education.