Caring for People, not just Students

The department works to honor Tennessee teachers every day, but we are especially excited to celebrate educators during National Teacher Appreciation Week, May 5-9.

 Sharon Harper is the director of the Southeast Regional Center for Excellence, often known as the Southeast CORE office, but she is also a proud parent of two Tennessee graduates. Here she reflects on the educators that helped her children grow throughout their K-12 career.

By Sharon Harper

Sharon Harper serves as the director for the Southeast CORE office.

Theodore Roosevelt once said, “Nobody cares how much you know until they know how much you care.” As a teacher, I always wanted my students to know that I cared more about them as a person rather than just as a student.  As a parent, I wanted my children to feel that in their educational experience in Tennessee.

My family moved from another state when my children were in the third and fourth grade respectively. Having gone to college in Cleveland, Tennessee, I already had an idea where I wanted my kids to go to school. We honed in on our housing search, and found a house in the ideal school zone. I knew we were going to see academic growth in my children. What I did not know was the impact of this group of teacher on the lives of my children.

The teachers, coaches, and administrators who played an instrumental role in the personal growth of my children are numerous. From their elementary coach who taught them leadership and the importance of taking care of their bodies to the middle school English teacher who continues to keep in contact with them. I think of the local coach who asked my son to speak at a baseball camp for his students, my daughter’s third-grade teacher who had such influence on my daughter that she wanted to be a teacher (even if it was a short lived goal), and the science teacher who played a vital role in the development of their moral compasses. I remember the various coaches who took time to teach them not only sports but leadership. These teachers had a vital role in the rearing of my children. The teachers not only taught them reading and math, but also taught them respect, honor, and other life skills.  Both of my children, who are now young adults, were prepared to take on the world because these teachers invested hours before, during, and after school to make them leaders and strong members of society.

My daughter recently had a friend whose life was cut short at the age of 22. At the wake, one of the local university staff members who knew me came up and asked me why there were so many educators in the receiving of friends line for this young lady. I responded that this is just what the educators in our world did. We supported our students and our families in the community because we care. These teachers truly exemplify the concept of letting the students know how much they care. I know that my children, Jaime and Jessica Harper, felt their compassion and are better because of these everyday heroes I am so thankful that I can call myself an educator in Tennessee and that my children were blessed by the teachers in the Bradley County School system.