We who teach at St. Paul Lutheran became teachers because we were enamored by teachers who inspired us to learn, who could make any subject interesting, even fun. Teachers so passionate, they convinced us that if we understood what was being taught, our lives would forever be enriched. While they respected our individual needs and interests, they had an ardent desire to have us all know and appreciate the subject matter they were teaching.

Their classrooms were usually lively, something always going on, but it was never chaotic. We knew they were in control. We trusted these teachers. They were fair. They didn’t have favorites. They respected our rights of person, property and reputation. We knew that whatever we received, it was what we had earned. If it was discipline they expected us to get our behavior under control and move on; no drama. If it was praise, it was because we had worked hard, not because we were smart. We knew what was expected of us.

They could be stern, but we knew they cared about us personally. They knew that the emotional bond between teacher and student was not just important, but critical to learning. Their smiles came readily, especially when we “got it.” They had an empathetic understanding of the difficulties we would experience in mastering the materials being taught. They constantly strove to make the difficult attainable. They were our partners, not our masters. Their faith was more than talk. It permeated their lives.

They were curious, always were on a quest for more knowledge. They understood that working with immature minds could be dulling and that it was important to keep themselves fresh: physically, mentally and spiritually.

Their commitment to self-sacrifice, self-discipline, regularity, punctuality and hard work was evident. We knew they prized these values, because they lived them and taught them every day. To them, values were how you lived, not just something you talked about.They also taught citizenship. That it was everyone’s responsibility to contribute, cooperate and collaborate at home, at school and in the community. They taught us that the well-being of the individual depended on the prosperity of all. We were a team.

We will always love these teachers and forever be grateful. They taught us how to learn, how to think and how to create. This foundation will continue to shape us for the rest of our lives. We want to give the same gift to our students. This is why we teach.