Thank you, Mrs. Kasmer and Every Teacher, Everywhere

May 6th, 2021

My fourth-grade math teacher, Mrs. Kasmer always had books in the corner of her classroom. They were never assigned, just waiting invitingly for some curious child to pick one up and open a new world. There were word puzzles and number puzzles, puns, and jokes. All watched over by a twinkling eye - as she looked to see who was interested in what, who was awake, what was stirring.

This week in particular, I look back and wonder who I might be if I had never met her, never had her in the early years of life, stoking what would become a life-long interest in so many things, including all things math.

I also think back to a retreat I ran some years ago for a group of school leaders, where I asked them to each write a letter of gratitude to the teacher who inspired them, who saw them as a person, who changed their understanding of the world. The letters were beautiful, powerful, and consistent. They each wrote about someone who ignited within them a love of learning, an appreciation for a subject, and a sense of being seen and valued as a person. And, each of them wrote about the powerful impact that had on their lives.

After 9/11, I decided to take two years away from the dotcom world and teach. I thought I would be giving back to this society that had offered so much to me. I had no idea what it would mean to care for students, and be responsible for their learning. While it was both an honor and a privilege, it also was an incredible challenge to be involved in the awakening and shaping of young hearts and minds. And to know that I also had a responsibility to look out for their wellbeing in so many other ways. What a trust we place, as parents and as a society, in those who we call teachers.

It is teacher appreciation week. I am humbled and awed by the work, the calling, the profession. I’ve never left it, and I’ve never forgotten Mrs. Kasmer.

Thank you to all of our teachers!

Warmly,
Joe

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