An Open Letter To Joe Biden: You Are Right About Teachers

Dear Mr. Vice President:

I am a teacher, and teachers made me who I am.

The teachers who Jill knows who take money out of their own pockets to buy pencils and notebooks for their students who can't afford them. Why? Because being a teacher is not what they do, it is who they are. You know what I know, for real. These are the people that are the heart and soul of this country.

You are right. Teachers are the heart and soul of this country. What other profession has so much influence over our young people? Children enter our schools in kindergarten, often unable to read, write, or understand that eating glue sticks is a bad idea. They leave as adults, ready to contribute to their own communities. Over their thirteen years in school, students encounter teachers whose interest in their development goes far beyond standardized test scores.

Every adult can look back at a teacher who made a positive impact. Sometimes that impact is a passion for a specific subject area. Mrs. Nugent and Mr. Pitcher sparked my love for Latin, the subject I now teach. Sometimes that impact transcends content and curriculum. In 2014, nearly 30 years after she had me as a social studies student, Mrs. Winstead attended the sentencing of my childhood perpetrator and supported me as I gave my victim impact statement in court. In that moment, I was still her student; she was still my teacher.

Teachers are the voice that drowns out childhood insecurity and self-doubt, transforming "I'm not good enough" into "I believe in myself." Teachers show children what the world should be, promoting in their classrooms the respect, equity, and empathy that is often missing in their students' communities. My own teachers made me feel special and valued when I was an awkward kid with a unibrow and a perpetually stuffy nose. Even more fundamental, their classrooms were safe when my home wasn't.

My experience is not unique. It is part of growing up and attending school in America. Thank you for using your platform to explain what teaching is all about.

I am a teacher, and teachers made me who I am.

Best,

Dani Bostick