As we grow closer to the end of another school year, I wanted to take the time to pay tribute to all of our wonderful and dedicated teachers within the district. They are truly professionals who have made the decision to center their careers on the betterment of our youth.
Former superintendent of the Salt Lake City School District has said, “The most significant positive impact on student learning is the attitude, affection and ethos of the teacher towards the student.”
It has been my privilege to conduct short walk-throughs in our schools during the year. As I pass by or stop in the classrooms, I have witnessed our teachers instructing students with smiles on their faces and determination in their eyes, wanting to make a positive difference in the lives of our children and grandchildren. Teachers are doing what they love and loving what they do.
Teachers do not enter the profession expecting to become rich. They do, however, hope to be able to provide a living for their families. They have had at least four years of higher education training and many go on to earn Master or Doctorate degrees, generally at their own expense.
According to the Utah State Office of Education the combined average teacher salary and benefits package in Morgan is below state average. During the past five years, all teachers have lost six paid days of professional development training and elementary teachers have lost an additional 10 paid days of preparation time. And, like all of us, they have seen the additional increases in social security taxes taken from their paychecks. Teachers have not received a cost of living increase in three years and they will not be receiving a cost of living increase next year. Of course, some will qualify for increases due to years of experience or completion of additional training.
Our teachers understand the challenging economic times we are facing in this state and nation and are very willing to accept their share of the responsibility to help reduce the crisis. But, because of their service-oriented nature, they would like to see additional teachers hired to help relieve the growing number of students in our elementary classes and core subject classes at the secondary level. They firmly believe that smaller class sizes will allow teachers the opportunity to give more attention to the individual needs of each child.
Two examples that point to our teacher’s value in the community are the outcome of the recent Regional Sterling Scholar Competition held at Wasatch High School and the graduation rate of our students.
There are 14 schools that compete in the Sterling Scholar contest. There is one winner and two runners-up in each category. Morgan walked away with two regional winners and seven runners-up. This equates to Morgan winning 21.42 percent of the available categories, leaving the other 13 schools to compete for the remaining 78.58 percent of the titles. Similar statistics hold true for the competitions held in 2011 and 2012.
Morgan’s graduation rate for 2012 stood at 93 percent according to the Utah State Office of Education, while the state average was only 78 percent. More of our students graduate and on average 50 percent of those graduates leave school with some form of scholarship either from an institution of higher learning or from awards given by our local scholarship board through local donations.
Of course, our support staff deserves credit for busing them back and forth to school, providing them with nutritious lunches, serving those with special needs, keeping our schools clean and orderly, creating functioning and efficient offices, and providing students with a warm and welcome learning atmosphere, which contributes to our successes.
These and many other student accomplishments begin in the home and are supported by our teachers in Kindergarten through grade 12.
Our teachers are professionals in every sense of the term. They give of their time and talent willingly on behalf of our children and grandchildren. I, for one, deeply appreciate their service and acknowledge their value to our community. I know there are hundreds of others in our valley that have similar respect for their service.
Thank you teachers!