Opinion: Welcome back, New Hampshire educators


Published: 09-01-2023 7:00 AM

Megan Tuttle is president of NEA-New Hampshire.

While for most people the fall signals the beginning of the final months of the year, for educators it signals the beginning of a new year.

Seniors who graduated in the spring might be college-bound or starting new jobs or apprenticeships. They will take their prior twelve years of learning to new levels. At the end of this new path, some will be social workers, scientists, plumbers, electricians, journalists or even teachers.

Many others will go on to defend our country as members of the military. There will be those who become elected leaders. Most will eventually raise families and send their children off to public schools to begin this cycle all over again.

New Hampshire’s public schools will once again open their doors to all students. No student is turned away. Waiting for these students are educators, some of them are known to returning students from previous school years. For many educators, this will be their first year teaching and working in our schools. The familiar faces of bus drivers, office staff, food service workers, and maintenance workers join teachers and para-educators, aides, and tutors to provide an environment where children thrive and learn.

Educators see everything. The thrill of a championship won and the excitement of the school play production. They hear school bands, at first maybe not hitting all the right notes, but by the end of the year coming together to make perfect music. They see new friendships forming, maybe even for life.

And they witness children unable to learn because they come to school hungry or because they are bullied. They buy school supplies for their students because the district cannot afford them. Because everyone is accepted, they see challenges from every walk of life. And yet, educators, despite their worst challenges, answer the school bell each fall.

Schools cannot hire enough teachers and other educators to fill classes. Planning time gets shortened or eliminated. Classes are dropped. Challenges to their classroom authority happen daily. Still, they answer the school bell.

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While it’s fall outside and leaves will be changing color and dropping from the trees, it is a time of renewal for New Hampshire’s educators: students entering new schools and new grades, some students entering school for the very first time, new friends, and new clothes. Parents and caregivers will be working together with educators to nurture students’ curiosity, imagination, and love of learning. It happens every fall.