National Education Month: Celebrating educators across the country

by Gaby Gramont

November is National Education Month and at TorchLight, we wanted to recognize the hard work, dedication and unconditional support that is shown from teachers and educators. This past year in particular has been very tough on students, families and teachers alike – thank you to all the teachers who stepped up and provided the very much-needed support to our kids, siblings, etc.

Education Month

Heidi Parsont, CEO and Founder

In the past, my kids went to school every day and I didn’t blink an eye. We dropped them off and left them at school, assuming their educational needs were being met and grateful that their social/emotional well-being were nurtured day after day. We took it for granted. Covid hit and life hasn’t been the same since but particularly for children.

Some of the unsung heroes of this pandemic are the teachers, many of whom risked their lives day after day going to school to teach even though their lives were also at risk. They have always had to deal with sick kids but the pandemic pushed them into new territory as did the need to jump from teaching virtually to in-person and back again. And now, as the pandemic tide begins to turn, we look to teachers to help our children catch up academically and learn how to socialize again. They have one of the hardest jobs around and most of the time, we fail to recognize that.

But today, I raise a glass to toast those who have chosen to teach, to thank them for helping guide my children and so many others, to recognize them for the sacrifices they make every day, and to show gratitude for the impact they make on our young people. In honor of National Education Month, I want to thank every teacher, administrator, counselor and staff member out there who helps ensure that our children are educated, nourished, cared for, and kept safe every day they go to school. Cheers to all of you. And please know that we do appreciate you!

Julie Lowe, Chief Culture Officer

Raising a child with learning differences and special needs has its challenges especially as it relates to education.  My son is now 20 but having fought the good fight for him since preschool through high school I have a deep appreciation for special education teachers and counselors and want to give a shout-out to those individuals who chose this profession.  They didn’t choose this career for the money but because they care and they have a gift. The gift they give every day is to keep a child or teen engaged, confident and included in their classroom when the rest of their day they may feel just the opposite.  These special teachers take the time to know and understand the unique qualities of their students and sometimes that includes behavior issues, quirkiness, and forgetfulness.  Their patience and understanding have a great impact on their students’ lives and learning abilities. They have the power to make or break a student’s spirit.  I have seen the outcome of a teacher who “gets” my son and their relationship means the difference between him doing and understanding the work or giving up. 

This month is National Education Month and while I could pick just one teacher or counselor to recognize, I feel I would be leaving out an entire team of people who became our trusted partners and part of our village.  They all deserve a huge raise.  Thank you to those special education teachers and counselors who truly are SPECIAL!!!

Stephanie Ranno, VP of Business Development & Account Management

As part of celebrating the passion, dedication, and down-right heroism of teachers so broadly on display during the pandemic– there is one teacher in my life I keep coming back to – and that’s my cousin’s husband- Jared Melrath.

Jared is a middle-school history teacher who was actually set to teach my oldest son this year until he was diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer. Jared is THAT teacher that 6th graders respond to because he not only loves what he teaches – like REALLY loves it – but he loves to teach middle-schoolers. Loud, self-deprecating, funny, and approachable, kids respond to him because he is real – he is authentically him.   

Of course, the news is devastating for my cousin and all of the family and friends who cherish him. But it’s also heartbreaking for the hundreds of students he might have inspired through his teaching career – the hundreds of students who are missing out on adding him to the top of their “Favorite Teacher” list.

When I’ve talked with Jared over the last few months he’s been incredibly brave in sharing his story – from diagnosis to chemotherapy, to the really tough personal decision to pause teaching.

Yet, I see what he’s “teaching” now to be some of his most important lessons yet- for his students and all of us really- lessons on not giving up, fighting with all you’ve got, living openly in our greatest joys and greatest pains – those are lessons no book or test can capture- those are gifts that make for a remarkable life of teaching.

Julie Rutherford, Marketing Director

My sons’ teachers have been extraordinary during the pandemic (and they were pretty great before too 🙂). In addition to dealing with the tumult we all dealt with as working parents during the lockdown phase of COVID (and beyond), they somehow managed to produce excellent lessons and coursework that engaged my kids and helped them learn. It’s not easy being a teacher in any circumstance but they truly rose to the occasion at a singular point in our history and kept our education system going. I can never thank them enough for what they did for my children and all children in this country.

Gabrielle Gramont, Marketing Specialist

The pandemic hit right as I was finishing my very last semester of college. Not only was it very sad because it cut off the last moments I had of my college experience but it was a very frightening and confusing time. In just two days, my professors transitioned to a completely online model, even though they were as lost and unprepared as the students were. They were so kind, understanding, and even comforting – emphasizing that grades should be our very last priority and focusing on our mental and physical health. I couldn’t be more grateful for the bond I formed with my professors in those last two months and the support and love that they showed us.

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