Phil Lanoue, the superintendent of schools in Athens, Georgia, offered his teachers a reward: those with perfect attendance would get a day off. Some teachers resisted the offer because they didn’t want to miss their classes.

 

He and other administrators became substitute teachers for those who accepted the day off. He taught a class in life science.

 

He wrote:

 

 

While the original idea was to reward teachers, I know it ended up making far more of an impact on those of us who walked in their shoes for a day.

 

 

At the end of the day, he had new respect for his teachers:

 

 

I made it through the day, exhausted, and having developed an even deeper understanding and appreciation for our teachers. I tried to make my teaching interesting, interactive and relevant, but I could see that there was something that only the regular classroom teacher could offer: the foundation of strong relationships.

 
Teachers connect with students in many ways and are so familiar with their strengths and areas of growth. They know the struggles they are facing, what gets them excited and how to say just what a student needs to hear — and when they need to hear it. They know when to push and when to hold back. Knowing that our students walk into our classrooms and are met by such caring individuals is everything — our teachers go the distance to ensure that students receive what they need — academically, social/emotionally and more.

 
I left Hilsman Middle School that day with a lot more than tired, achy feet from being in a teacher’s shoes. I left seeing firsthand that our students can truly receive no better education than in the Clarke County School District because of the tireless work of our teachers. The design of the lessons, the relationships that are built, the digital learning, the International Baccalaureate framework, the opportunities available through our partnerships — I am truly humbled. I am humbled to work with an incredible community of individuals who are committed to the wellbeing of our students.

 
I encourage all interested community members to consider volunteering at one of our schools next year so that they, too, can be a part of this incredible Clarke County School District community. Spend time in our classrooms, and gain a renewed sense of why Athens-Clarke County has every reason to be “Proud To Be CCSD.”