I always tell my students (the pre-service teachers):
"If you are bed businessperson you will be poor, but if you are bad teacher you may mess up a whole generation"
And I truly believe it. For my children, their teachers are as important as us parents. In many situations, they are more of the authority to them than we are. A teacher can build them up or strip them of their confidence in one sentence. And it is often scary. As a parent, I trust my three children into hands of people I barely know. Yet, on most days they spend more times with my children than I do! Let that sink in. I spend less time with my children than their classroom teacher does. We send them to school at 8:20ish and we pick them up from after school program around 5 PM. On Monday I teach till 8 PM. On Monday and Thursday my oldest daughter has Lego League practice till 6 PM (I volunteer in her team on Thursdays to spend more time with her). Tuesday and Wednesday she has swim team practice 6:30 till 8:30. They need to get ready for bed at 8:30. On Weekdays the only time we spend truly together as a whole family is at dinner. I can even begin to fathom how single parents or parents who work two-three jobs doing it, but I digress.
I see Crockett's motivational quote as testimony to the power of a teacher. I see it as a love letter to them. It is easy to see kids affection in lower grades but later it becomes less obvious. Sometimes students themselves don't understand how powerful and positive influence some teachers had on them until they are older. Sometimes teaching job is a thankless job. Just like in parenting there are so many tasks they perform "behind the scene". For some children, the kind word and special attention from a teacher may be the all kind word and attention they will get in the entire day!
Did you ever watch movie Freedom Writers, starring Hilary Swank? Last month I had an opportunity to learn from Many Scott one of the original Freedom Writers. Manny was a guest speaker at the local High School. His autobiographical stories were very eye-opening to me and the title of his newest book "Even on Your Worst Day, You Can Be a Student's Best Hope" sums it up.
So, to my fellow teachers, keep going, keep building the better society one kid at the time. They are worth it and you are their champions. Even on your worst day, you can be a student's best hope, and I would like to thank you for that.