Talia Suskauer recently learned that, starting May 24, she will play the lead role of Elphaba in the Broadway musical Wicked in New York City. The Florida native was elated to share her news with the world, but first, there was one person she needed to tell in person - her childhood voice teacher, Craig, who immediately told Talia, "I always knew you could do it!" A video of the encounter has gone viral.
Teachers, this is the work you do that forever holds space in your students’ hearts. Few have that ability in a child's life, and for every Talia story, Las Cruces Public Schools has thousands more. Robbi Berry, our 2022 Teacher of the Year, says some of her favorite moments are when her former students come back to the classroom to drop off a graduation announcement, or send an email to tell her they've been accepted into their dream college. In her words, "Once you're in the Berry Bunch, you're my student for life." What other profession makes such a commitment?
A favorite memory of mine as a teacher was helping my FFA students organize their student office elections. One student, who used a wheelchair, ran for president and won. At the time, he probably didn’t know that while I was teaching him, I was also his student; he taught me that the way we view the world is limitless, and we never know what opportunities will be presented to us as a platform to thrive. That student went on to become one of the most successful leaders I ever had the privilege of mentoring.
In the coming years, the LCPS that future generations of students will experience is about to look different, too. As you read this, your public school district is working on redefining what it means to experience school. Our experiential learning models, which provide a curriculum for students to explore career opportunities, is an investment in the quality of students we will graduate. They are also an opportunity for teachers to flex their own professional skills and experiences in a way we have not yet seen in LCPS.
As we celebrate National Teacher Appreciation Week May 2-6, please know that there will never be enough words that adequately describe the impact our teachers have on students. You are one of the constants in their lives that provide a safe space, a chance to dream and grow. You are the perpetual cheerleader that shows up and never leaves. The possibility of the future that our students will inherit is made possible by you and those who taught you.
You are our teachers. Thank you.
Ralph Ramos is the superintendent of schools at Las Cruces Public Schools