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Appreciating our teachers

THE role of teacher is a significant one in everyone's lives.

In the formal education system alone, everyone has memories of the impression, good or otherwise, a teacher has made on them.

As children, we are often unaware of the dedicated professional community that nurtures our progress through education.

Now, as an adult and a parent, I stand in awe and admiration of those who have chosen this career path, knowing my own
lack of patience and energy for such an endeavour.

There is a Latin proverb that says: By learning you will teach; by teaching you will understand.

Suzie McClement is a Grade One teacher and member of Indooroopilly Uniting Church in Brisbane.

A third generation teacher, she is inspired in her work by other teachers, good leadership, parents and families, and most of all, by the kids and their enthusiasm for learning.

"My faith journey enables me to do my job to the best of my ability, be that as a teacher, mother, wife, or friend, with the
gifts that I have been given," she said.

Ellen Ronalds is a young music and English teacher in the Brisbane Valley.

She said, despite tough days, teaching gives her some very rewarding moments.

"I won't lie; teaching is hard.

"As a student, I never appreciated how hard my teachers must have worked to bring me so much learning and joy.

"The things that drew me to teaching were a love of learning, a real love for my subjects (music and Japanese) and the fact that I enjoy people's company and had a good school experience myself.

"The people who inspired me initially were the ones who have had a big impact on my life," she said.

"These days it's colleagues, young and old; the ones who put in such heart and soul (along with many, many hours) and who put up with the bureaucratic nonsense and still have a good attitude.

I have a lot to learn from them."

She said her faith gives her strength and balance.

"It is a pretty frequent occurrence that something will happen in my day that requires me to forgive someone and to be grateful for what I have."

Of course, there are those who may not go by the traditional title of teacher, but become mentors and guides.

They, too, are worthy of appreciation for their patient nurturing and guidance, for seeing potential, but allowing people to explore it for themselves, and for being there whenever needed.

They also often feel a sense of call or a commitment to their Church community and share their gifts in a congregation by
being a Sunday School teacher or youth group leader.

The training and experience of ministers in the Uniting Church is highly valued too.

Paragraph 11 of the Basis of Union states: "The Uniting Church enters into the inheritance of literary, historical and scientific enquiry which has characterised recent centuries, and gives thanks for the knowledge of God's ways with humanity which are open to an informed faith."

In the Presbyterian Church, there was a tradition of referring to the minister as a Teaching Elder.

Moreton Rivers Presbytery Minister, Rev Andrew Gunton, said this heritage suggests that one of the primary roles of a minister is as a teacher.

"Part of who we are as ministers is providing education for those people whom we are called to serve," he said.

"The vows made by ministers at their ordination and reaffi rmed at their induction are that they will teach, inspire and encourage, both by word and example," said Mr Gunton.

In the Gospels Jesus, himself, was regularly referred to as "teacher".

The relationships we form within our communities have an impact on the way we worship, live, work, make decisions, and
on the way we reach out beyond our church community.

Being aware of the impact that we have on others can help us be more intentional about how we seek to demonstrate Jesus' teachings in our own lives.

Photo : Suzie McClement at school. Photo courtesy of Suzie McClement