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Teachers: The Only Role Models Many Students Will Ever Know

Jackson Barnett

Every school has a different set of needs. Some schools, like mine, have a high level of students in poverty. But every teacher, regardless of where or whom they teach, faces the daunting demand of being responsible for their students' success. 

At my school, teachers are the only educational role models that many students will ever know. It must be terrifying to think of failing young people who need inspiration so badly. I don't think anyone who works outside of the classroom can understand the psychological toll this takes on teachers.

In my 10th grade history class, my teacher displayed a decorative wooden plaque beside her desk that said, "To teach is to touch eternity." Since then, I've come to realize how true that statement is.

Students unknowingly demand that their teachers impact them far beyond the amount of time they spend in their teachers' classrooms. This might seem impossible given that most teachers only have a semester or a year to influence their students' futures, but it is a reality of teaching.

Every student has unique demands. Some need concrete skills and tools to change their socioeconomic status. Others require love and patience to inspire them to evolve from prejudice and racism. Others—like me—simply ask for an opportunity to break free from our shells.

I understand how terrifying this demand might seem to many teachers. But I am proof that teachers have touched my eternity.

Jackson Barnett is a senior at Childersburg High School, a public school located south of Birmingham, Ala. He is involved in his school's drama club and Key club. He will attend Wesleyan University this fall.

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