Letter to the Editor: All teachers are heroes

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Kudos to Mark Zimmaro for his report on the 9 South Philadelphia teachers who were winners of the prestigious 2022 Lindback Award for Distinguished Teachers (“9 local teachers honored,” May 27).

Here they are again: Jenna Beck and Meredith Seung Mee Buse of Vare-Washington Elementary School, John Burks-Silver of Chester A. Arthur School, Nicole Caucci of George Sharswood School, Dr. Aimee Davis of Horace Furness High School, Rachel Kohan-Garvey of the Academy at Palumbo, Kate Melnick of George W. Childs School, Jacquelyn Mengel of George W. Nebinger School and LoAn Nguyen-Ngo of Eliza B. Kirkbride School.

As Lindback Foundation Trustee David Loder remarked, we live in “unprecedented and challenging times confronting COVID, as well as infrastructure and resource issues.” He could have added the stress from all the dangers facing teachers and students from mentally ill, armed individuals. As a retired, lifelong Philadelphia teacher, I cannot stress enough how heroic today’s teachers are, just to walk into a classroom, let alone teach students with all kinds of learning problems.

So, congratulations to those special teachers who earned the Lindback Award. I would also like to recognize all the members of faculties here and across the city and country who demonstrate true heroism by working under some of the most demanding conditions we have ever experienced.

While we are at it, let’s urge city and state legislators to release some of Pennsylvania”s budget surplus and unspent federal funding to correct the unsafe and unhealthy conditions that still exist in our local school buildings like lead and asbestos. Neither students nor staff should have to risk their health and safety to enter a contaminated school on top of all the other risks.

We should also invest some of that surplus to address trauma and other mental health needs. The No. 1 goal should be a safe learning environment where all children can reach their potential under the guidance of dedicated, healthy teachers.

If we don’t act now, when will we?

 – Gloria C. Endres