By Eli Kramer

“A teacher affects eternity; [they] can never tell where [their] influence stops.” –Henry Adams

Every day, 1064 scholars walk into classrooms across our network and are greeted by the most important school-based people in the fight for educational equity: you, their teachers.

Hiawatha scholars bring their infinite potential into the classroom with them every day.  I know we are fortunate beyond measure to have teachers and staff who rise to the occasion of honoring that potential.  Our staff treat each day like they affect eternity.

I realize that ‘eternity’ is a pretty serious concept. It can be hard to remember that our everyday moments with scholars have such a limitless capacity for impact – but they do. Sometimes, we get to witness glimpses of that impact along the way.  We see it in the ‘light bulb’ moments of learning after a long struggle with a new idea; we see it in the scholar who is facing a challenge and finds a breakthrough – often due to the guidance of a caring adult.

But, affecting eternity? Really?

Absolutely. Think of the teachers from your past who have influenced you the most, and who still affect you to this day. Those mentors who have stuck with and shaped you are at the heart of this work.

I think of Ms. Fisk, who caught me cheating in eighth grade social studies, which I got in serious trouble for, both in school and out of school. I never forgot that important lesson on personal responsibility. I never cheated on another assignment, and often talk to my own children about what I learned from that mistake.

I think of Father Bellaimey, whose world religion and ethics class helped instill in me what’s become a life-long desire to understand different views on truth and justice. I couldn’t have known this at the time, but his class was my introduction to ideas that still drive me in my work and personal life.

During this teacher and staff appreciation week, I want to thank each of you for bringing your love and passion to our work every day, and for seeing the infinite potential in each of our Hiawatha scholars.

The time we get with each child at Hiawatha – to wrap them with love, to challenge them to be their best selves, and to help them find greatness in their future – affects eternity.