“Better than a thousand days of diligent study is one day with a great teacher.” – Japanese Proverb

Growing up, I vividly recall a bank commercial where a child and their parent visited a museum. As they marveled at fossils and cosmic images of the Milky Way, the parent inquired, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” With pure innocence, the child replied, “I want to be a teacher!” Expressing concern, the parent suggested, “Wouldn’t you rather be a doctor, lawyer, or even an astronaut? These professions are prestigious and lucrative.” The child retorted, “That may be true, but where would any of those professionals come from without teachers?”

This commercial resonated with me deeply. My identity today is largely shaped by a handful of educators who, throughout my life, became my advocates, altering the trajectory of my academic journey. At seven, I emigrated from Cuba and started elementary school without knowing English. As a child thrust into an alien environment, the trauma was intense. But my salvation came not from my bewildered parents but from my second-grade teacher, who took a vested interest in me, guiding me until I acclimated and began to grasp English.

In the sixth grade, I was wrongly placed academically due to a bullying fifth-grade teacher. However, within the first week of school, my science teacher advocated for me, leading me to the guidance counselor who redirected me to the correct academic path. This intervention came after my teacher recognized my potential in an essay on the marvels of discovery and science. Again, a teacher stepped in, recognizing and encouraging my authenticity.

Throughout my journey, I’ve met teachers who’ve surpassed personal hardships to serve the noble cause of educating young minds, often stepping in as guardians for those on the verge of academic oblivion. Conversely, I’ve experienced educators who allowed personal frustrations to bleed into their teaching roles. The pedagogical world, like life, presents a mix of the good, the bad, and the in-between. But I am a product of the few who truly saw me, nurtured me, and acted as my advocates when my authenticity was threatened. As immigrants, my parents struggled to navigate a system vastly different from Cuba’s, making their assistance limited.

I can single out the handful of teachers whose influence triggered significant growth in me. I extend my profound gratitude to these guardians who tirelessly defend the potential of children. As we conclude this school year, I want to thank all teachers for championing countless students who lack representation.

I also acknowledge the challenges you face due to short-sighted political decisions. The lack of societal care and reward for educators is confounding. Rest assured, we at Safe Schools value your efforts and stand with our guardian teachers who have undoubtedly impacted countless lives.

In reflecting on that old bank commercial, the profound truth in the child’s words becomes even more apparent. Where would our doctors, lawyers, and astronauts come from without teachers? Here’s to all teachers, educators, and guardians! Your dedication to young minds is commendable. Enjoy your summer break knowing we are your allies, advocating for education alongside our partners. Thank you for being the origin of every profession and for helping mold the future, one child at a time.

Harold Marrero
Chief Operating Officer

We encourage you to share this information with friends, fellow teachers, and allies and join us in bringing awareness to our efforts. Your support is essential for our ongoing work to create safe spaces for all students, regardless of ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or expression. Please consider donating to Safe Schools so that we can continue advocating for inclusivity and diversity within the education system.