Teachers have immeasurable pride and responsibility about our role in the lives of children. Those that invest so much in the success of future generations deserve to be respected and empowered by their communities and government. Students shouldn’t lose one cent at the hands of political discourse. My message to the public: think forward and think global. Commitment to and value of education needs to be part of our culture. While we are in a deluge of test scores and data, other countries are forging ahead. We need to advocate for schools to receive funding and support necessitated by a world class education and demand it of those elected by their constituents. With the adoption of the Common Core State Standards, there needs to be a national dialogue – more so than any other time in history – with teachers, administrators, parents, and students regarding how these changes affect educational expectations. Families have always played a pivotal role in our students’ success – and we need them now more than ever. Parents and students: your role in education is equal to that of a teacher. Parents, you are their child’s first teacher – and teachers value your involvement! Students have the responsibility to give their best effort and behavior to those devoted to preparing them for the future. Participation in extracurricular activities has been proven to decrease dropout rates, improve academic performance, and strengthen bonds between the home and school. I encourage all parents, teachers, administrators, and community members to support and create opportunities outside the classroom for our students to thrive! My message to teachers: have ownership over your profession. Every child deserves an exceptional teacher – every child deserves you! Communicate your needs and dreams for your future. Your resilience and commitment to your classrooms makes each of you my “teacher of the year.” Take control of your professional growth. There will always be challenges in our profession – yet, your perseverance and passion can supersede and transform a child’s life. In this season of education reform, choose faith over fear. Use your talents and love to spur your students’ interests and inspire your community. It’s time to show that teachers are the good news – and your time is now! Be the voice, the innovator, the collaborator that holds down the purpose of education when everything else is upside down. This is your year, your moment to be different – but more importantly, it’s time for everyone to know that you are the difference!