Our teachers are a Christmas gift

Published 7:04 am Sunday, December 11, 2016

School teachers amaze me sometimes.

This week is a good example.

We are approaching our popular Season’s Greetings special section that comes out each year featuring letters to Santa from area school children.

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We love the letters, and look forward to the section each year just like readers do. But as the section has grown over the years with significant growth in student enrollment, getting literally hundreds of Santa letters typed in by staff members has been almost impossible.

There are tales of employees sitting up at the office all hours in December trying to transcribe. Eventually it got done, but not much else did.

Besides, teachers know student names, and while we may know some, we don’t know them all. Transcribing them into an electronic file that can be used for laying out pages proves challenging, and our getting the letters typed in without mistakes on names, impossible.

In recent years getting the Santa letters typeset has essentially shut the office down for days, requiring everybody in advertising to the front office to participate. It’s not that anybody minded the work – it had just become undoable.

And that’s where my appreciation of teachers comes in.

We reached out to the elementary schools this year and explained the situation. To get this done, we said, we need letters submitted electronically.

No worries, they said.

And one after another arrived in perfect form, most typeset by the teachers themselves.

As if they don’t have enough to do.

Where the story gets more delightful is that the teachers sent the letters along with gratitude, like, “This means so much to our students. We use it as a handwriting exercise. Thank you for doing this.”

And, “I was glad to help because this means so much to our students.”

If this seems silly, so much dialogue about Santa letters, and who typesets what, understand that it is sometimes the little things, and how they are handled, that reveal a lot about a person, or a profession.

Also remember that for students in kindergarten through third grade, Santa is a pretty big deal. And telling Santa what they want each year, an even bigger deal.

So the teachers use it annually as an instructional exercise, getting them to practice writing techniques by sharing their wish lists and letters. And this year, the teachers did not complain once with a little more work on their end because they knew it would help get it done right.

The result when the letters are published next week will be that most every name is right, because we won’t have to guess. And the result is that we were reminded this week yet again that teachers put their students first.

“Glad to help,” one wrote. “Our students look forward to it every year.”

Not a single teacher out of dozens of classes across Oxford and Lafayette County uttered a complaint about having to do some extra work to get this done, and done right.

Of course not.

Thus, when you see this year’s letters to Santa next week, you can think about our many wonderful teachers in the community who are devoted to doing whatever is needed for the students. Sitting up late after a long day to grade papers. Meeting with a student or parent during lunch break. Chipping in for supplies. Or even typing in Santa letters.

It’s quite a Christmas story, since caring teachers are one of our greatest gifts.

David Magee is Publisher of The Oxford Eagle. You can contact him at david.magee@oxfordeagle.com.