A new school year is about to begin and a new school term is about to unfold. For both students and teachers, this is a time of exploratory excitement and anticipatory exuberance. Your columnists hold the greatest respect for teachers who demonstrate the highest level of professionalism, competence, and commitment. There just are no financial rewards or benefits sufficient to compensate such valued teachers. Speaking from experience, teaching is a great profession at all ranks from the preschool to the graduate level.

For most teachers, summer has been a busy period. Many have been in attendance at graduate school and attending specialized learning and teaching workshops. Teachers have been involved in updating course outlines, preparing new instructional units, developing curricular teaching materials, and preparing curricular project designs. Teachers are expected to be subject matter specialists and pedagogical experts. It is now late August, and many educators are now busily back in their classrooms making necessary preparations for the return of their students. It is going to be a busy school year.

As teachers, we need to keep in mind the importance of the delivery of subject matter in a coherent and organized manner and in a manner that is in line with the experiential level of each learner. Creative teaching is a scientific art and learning can be an exciting venture for learners. Both teaching and learning is hard work. It pays off to have a healthy work ethic. In addition to opening new worlds for learners in the various subject matter disciplines, there are other responsibilities for teachers to keep in mind.

Teachers have a variety of other student-centered tasks: let us see if we can come up with a few... develop a love for learning, instill a sense of pride in one's ethnicity, modify disruptive behavior, observe signs of abuse, censor unsavory messages on T-shirts and enforce the dress code. Teachers are asked to wage war on drugs, check backpacks for dangerous weapons, and assist students in developing a sense of self-esteem. And further, teachers are to teach students about patriotism, good citizenship, sportsmanship, fair play, and the importance of voting, elements in balancing a checkbook, and skills in applying for a job. Of course, at the same time, one needs to check for head lice, maintain a safe and wholesome environment, recognize signs of antisocial behavior, deal with bus seating problems, and instill a respect for cultural diversity of others. Of course, there is assigned hall duty, bus duty, often lunchroom duty, and after school monitoring. And a reminder, do not forget the special bus passes, go home with another parent pass, leave for home early pass, and the special health credentialing and individualized student diet notations.

Teachers are expected to work on their own time after school grading papers, preparing lesson plans and instructional materials. And then there are laboratory experiences to prepare, writing reports (often in triplicate), working on grant preparation, attending PTO meetings, preparing for parent conferences, writing report cards, and receiving telephone calls from concerned parents and making calls to the less than concerned parents and writing letters of recommendation (but keep your law book handy). Weekends and evenings are often taken up with scoring achievement and diagnostic state exams and charting the results. And often on a Saturday, a teacher will be found at a store such as Teachers Pet purchasing teaching supplies paid for out of their own pocket.

Teachers are expected to incorporate the latest technology into their teaching, monitor web sites, prepare and monitor the IEP of individual students, and relate personally with each child. For all of the above and more, teachers are usually issued chalk, a chalk board, a bulletin board and a few books to accomplish what is expected. Of course, it is the responsibility of the teacher to make sure all students pass the state mandatory exams, even those students who fail to come to school regularly or who fail to complete their assignments or fail to open a book. And teacher accountability is often tied in with student testability. And resolvable solutions to that quagmire are still on the drawing board.

Books and studies and an unlimited number of other responsibilities make up a teacher's day. Teaching is exciting, rewarding, and exhaustive. And a good teacher understands that one's impact on a student knows no limits. However, in light of the unpredictable and at times nearly insurmountable challenges facing the teacher, there is a word of CAUTION to the educator: do not let yourself be caught bowing your head, folding your hands, and whispering a prayer; they say that is not a listed responsibility nor acceptable teacher behavior for THIS DAY AND AGE.

However, when all is said and done, good schools are exciting centers for learning. Within our schools are hope-filled classrooms and caring teachers who are diligently working to cultivate hopeful students and inspired learners. And it just cannot get any better than that! That is how we see it FROM OUR PERSPECTIVE.