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Have you thanked a teacher today?
This past week we celebrated teacher appreciation week. At St. Victor School our Home and School Association takes the time to thank the faculty and staff with a variety of special themes each day. They also provided us the opportunity for a special lunch on Thursday. It was a great week and we are blessed to have such a wonderful parent organization that cares so much for all of us.

As I look back on my career of 27 years in education, I think back to what inspired me to be part of this noble profession. When I was in college I was searching, like every college student does. I had come to Loras College not sure about what the future would hold. In the back of my mind I felt a strong call to work for the church, but in what capacity, I was unclear. I had always been active in church, especially the youth ministry aspect. Growing up I had some amazing youth ministers who taught me much about all aspects of faith life. They showed me the importance of being an "active" Catholic. Getting involved, making a difference, putting one's faith in action were places to start. There was a fire created in me that I wanted to share with others.

Without knowing what I was going to do to share that fire I was assigned to a fourth-grade classroom for a "field experience" situation at Nativity Catholic School in Dubuque, Iowa. To be honest, this field experience changed my life. During this time, I really felt called into the "vocation" of teaching. I am not sure there was one specific experience that became my "aha" moment, but a lot of little things that added up to form and focus my decision. I was going to be a teacher; a Catholic school teacher. I was going to be able to hopefully light the fire of faith in students on a daily basis.

Whenever I have the opportunity to interview teachers for a job, I always use the word "vocation" in describing what we do as educators. As the Webster Dictionary defines it: "a summons or strong inclination to a particular state or course of action."

In my opinion, the people who choose the vocation of teaching are truly called to this course of action. They feel the desire to make a difference, to focus their time and energy on creating a culture where children can learn and grow, where they can make mistakes and learn from them. There are so many great things that teachers do on a day-to-day basis. I feel proud to be called a teacher, and to be honest I couldn't imagine doing anything else with my "vocation."

Teaching has definitely evolved over the past 27 years. In my opinion one thing has not changed; we have some amazing people out there teaching in the classrooms of our community and our world. These people have accepted their vocation. They have heard the calling to be a teacher. It is time we start appreciating them, not just one week out of the year, but every day they walk into their classrooms.

As we all know, no one is perfect and we are all very capable of making mistakes, but I can tell you these teachers' hearts are in the right place. Their goal is to ensure your children and grandchildren grow and learn. Teaching is tough, but so amazingly rewarding.

As another school year comes rapidly to a close I encourage you to take some time to think about all the teachers in our lives who have made such an impact. The ones who have challenged us to be the best we possibly can be, but also supported us in times of trouble and uncertainty. The role of teacher is not only to teach, but to counsel, support, role-model, inspire, lead and listen. These are all huge responsibilities for one individual. Only with the support of parents and community members can they do this. With this support the teachers of our community can continue to live out their vocation to be a teacher! So please make sure if you have not, THANK A TEACHER TODAY AND EVERY DAY!

- Joe Peters is the principal at St. Victor School in Monroe. His column appears on the second Saturday of each month.

He can be reached at