I loved my second grade teacher. From the first day I walked into Mrs. Lee’s classroom at Wilson Elementary School in Norman, Oklahoma, I knew she was special. She gave the best hugs ever. And, like great teachers everywhere, she opened up new possibilities for every one of her students.
One day Mrs. Lee took me aside to explain that if I worked hard, I could become a teacher, too – and it changed my whole world. No one in my family had graduated from college. No one had said I could do anything. But when Mrs. Lee said, “Yes, Miss Betsy, you can,” I saw myself in a different way. There were a lot of bumps along the way, but I never gave up my dream of becoming a teacher.
I’m the daughter of a maintenance man who became a teacher, a professor, and a United States Senator because America invested in kids like me and in great teachers like Mrs. Lee.
Things look very different now. Many teachers work two or three jobs before and after school and on the weekends to make ends meet. They struggle to teach while their school’s funding plummets year after year. They use their own money to buy basic school supplies or help out their students.
Teachers in Oklahoma, Kentucky, West Virginia, and all across the country change the lives of little girls and boys every day – and they deserve our respect and support. I stand in solidarity with those teachers who are fighting to support their families and invest in their students. Their fight is our fight.