Teaching and its importance has been woven into the fabric of my family for generations. My grandparents were educators and my great great grandmother, Ester B. Fletcher, taught in a pioneer school in the territories of the Old West.
I have read the journals and poems Ester wrote as she taught years ago. I have carried on that tradition of education as I taught college classes for four years. More recently, I have taught professional education classes for individuals in the legal and real estate profession.
Over 1,000 young men of our area have received the Communications Merit Badge in Boy Scouts as I have taught them how to better communicate in their families, schools, and community.
The importance of an impactful teacher is illustrated by an experience my wife, Christine, and I had a few years ago. We were in a gift shop in London, England, when a young woman in her early twenties approached me and asked if my last name was Fletcher. I said yes.
I could tell she was from the United States by her accent. In my mind, I started to think quickly-- how did I know this person? Was she someone I met while working with students from Desert Vista High School? I was stumped.
She next asked if the person across the shop was my wife and if her name was Christine Fletcher? Again, I said yes, and I was even more perplexed. After what seemed a very long pause, this young woman said, “your wife was my third-grade teacher some 13 years ago.”
I motioned for my wife to join us and I had the privilege of introducing her to one of her former students from long ago. Of course, tears filled my wife’s eyes, as it was beyond her wildest imagination that in a faraway land, and over a decade later, one of her students would recognize and greet her with such warm appreciation.
The power of a positive teacher is immeasurable. In my personal educational experiences, dedicated teachers have opened my mind to many wonderful thoughts and experiences. I am deeply grateful for fantastic teachers that taught my four children, helping prepare them for their adult life.
I am deeply committed to helping our teachers in the Tempe Union High School District receive the recognition and opportunities they deserve.
Part of their recognition is fair compensation. I am glad that this last May, the teachers finally received their much deserved compensation package. We need to work as a community to make sure that adequate funding is made available to keep those promises.
We need to keep good teachers in the classroom, address overcrowding, and ensure they have the resources they need. We all need to work hard to help raise this noble profession. Finally, we need to encourage our youth to seek out the teaching profession again, and engage in this life-changing career.