It was with great disappointment that I read the letter to the editor, “Chanukah, A Teaching Moment,” in your December 29, 2016 issue. The writer, a teacher in a yeshiva who chooses to remain anonymous, decries the fact that while other service providers receive generous tips at the holiday season, our hardworking teachers are virtually forgotten, receiving at best a token amount from the PTA. This, she estimates, comes out to about $4 per child.
Having taught at a local yeshiva high school for 27 years, I am certainly well aware of the sacrifices teachers make. I taught over 100 students daily, my salary was modest and I put in countless hours before and after school preparing lessons and grading papers. However, I wouldn’t have traded my job for another for one moment. When I taught a class that was well received, that was appreciation enough. When some students and my supportive principal wrote personal testimonials to me over the years, that was my bonus. And when I was able to spend my working hours in a warm and nurturing and, yes, spiritual environment, I felt very lucky indeed.
To this day I meet former students who recall lessons they learned in my classes or, better yet, have chosen to go into education because of their experiences there. I doubt that the mailman or the waiter or the garbage collector the writer so envies can say the same about their profession.
Of course, parents and students and the school administrators should always respect and support their teachers. They should be recognized, and not just on Chanukah, for the vital role they play in shaping our children’s lives. But this acknowledgement is not all about financial reward. If that’s all the writer wants, she should choose another career.