Yohuru Williams asks, who will you thank when you reflect on your life? Chances are at least one or two of the people who influenced you most were teachers.


“There are abundant examples of the many ways in which teachers change lives. During his acceptance speech for the Tony Awards top honor, Best Musical of 2015, producer Joey Parnes, for example, made it a point to thank “two of my many teachers” as well as “two of my newest teachers” emphasizing the importance of lifelong learning. During the same ceremony, actor Neil Patrick Harris likewise acknowledged his former “teachers in small town New Mexico.” He explained, “When sports were the only option, you showed creativity has a place in the world.” These are wonderful and much needed nods to the importance of and need for continued support of music and arts education. They also illustrate the deep, if not always-obvious ways, teachers can inspire greatness through a challenging assignment, a stimulating discussion, a few well-timed words of encouragement, the unbridled enthusiasm of a librarian, some constructive feedback on a piece of music or art, a successful entry at the science fair or the special attention of a club leader or coach. It is an aspect of the art of teaching that long-term educators cherish.


“Given the continued attacks on the teaching profession from so-called corporate education reformers, these displays of gratitude and emotion are especially welcome as they powerfully reaffirm the quintessence of teaching as a humanistic enterprise.”


Here’s an idea for Néw York Commissioner of Education MaryEllen Elia: Put Yohuru Williams in charge of Buffalo’s public schools. He sees education as a process of developing humans, not a balance sheet