Sen. Hank Sanders

Number 1614 - May 16, 2018       



             I appreciate teachers.  I struggled with teachers.  But I appreciate teachers.  I even fought with teachers.  But I appreciate teachers.  This week includes National Teachers’ Day and National Teacher Appreciation Week.  It gives me a ready-made opportunity to express my profound appreciation for teachers.  I appreciate teachers. 

            Teaching is one of the most important vocations in our society.  In fact, it is a special calling.  It is a calling that touches, shapes and molds young minds for better or for worse.  No other vocation provides such an opportunity to touch young growing minds.  Teachers often spend more time with our children than we do.  Teaching is a precious gift.  I appreciate teachers. 

            I have not always appreciated teachers. But I was a mean child.  I remember one teacher giving me C’s when I made A’s.  We clashed in a gigantic power of wills.  But I was a mean child.  I remember teachers’ refusing to call on me in class when I raised my hand. But I now know that I was an iron-willed child.  I remember teachers’ beating me when, in my mind, I had done no wrong. But I was a determined child and refused to accept responsibility for my own wrongdoings.  I was extremely self-righteous and did not realize it. My teachers must have felt that they had to break my terrible spirit before someone else broke me later in life.  I appreciate teachers.

            I did not always appreciate teachers. I remember hitting a teacher in the stomach.  I thought I was right. My punishment was to stand in the corner of the classroom on one foot at a time for a whole week.  Today I would have been expelled and handed over to law enforcement.  I learned by lesson.  I never hit another teacher.  Sometimes I wonder what would happen to me if I were a student today.  I appreciate teachers.  

            I remember Mr. G.L. Washington rescuing me from exile.  When teachers banned me from speaking in classes, Mr. Washington rescued me.  He was the principal, but he was our substitute teacher for that one day.  He called on me over and over in class, and I answered over and over.  He must have talked with my teachers because their approach changed after that day.  They were teachers and educators.  Teachers and educators banned me into exile.  An educator rescued me from exile.  I appreciate teachers.

            I now know that everything that happened to me was part of my molding process.  I was a very mean and willful child.  I had to be dealt with.  It was not just teachers with whom I struggled.  I also struggled intensely with my mother. My mother once said, “If I had my ax, I would chop your mean head off.”  I grew to appreciate my mother.  I grew to appreciate my teachers.  I appreciate teachers.

            I remember Mrs. James, who would not accept anything less than excellence from me and my classmates.  She was my high school English teacher.  Every time I write Sketches, I appreciate Mrs. James and other teachers.  I appreciate teachers.

            It makes me sad that we don’t really appreciate teachers.  We pay them too little.  We work them too hard.  We demand too much from them.  We criticize them too much.  We support them too little.  It is harder than ever to be a teacher these days.  I appreciate teachers.

            Teachers are the farmers of our minds.  They cultivate our minds.  It requires great faith to farm.  Farmers plant seeds not know whether the seeds will come up; whether too little rain will fall and the earth will dry up; whether too much rain will fall and the seeds will wash away; whether the right amount of sunshine will come creating the right amount of warmth; whether bugs will devour the growing crops; and so forth.  I appreciate farmers.  I appreciate teachers.

            Teachers plant seeds in our minds, our hearts, our spirits.  Teachers never know if the soil of our minds, hearts and spirits are sufficiently fertile, but they plant seeds anyway.  They never know if the environment will create conditions that stimulate growth or destruction.  They never know if the next teacher will cultivate the seeds that take root and spring up.  They never know if the environment outside of school will create deserts that dry up learning or floods that wash away the seeds of learning and/or plants of learning.  They never know what kind of harvest will ensue.  But they keep planting and cultivating.  It takes faith to be a teacher.  I appreciate teachers.  

            I remember my college teachers who stimulated my mind and spirit.  Mrs. Margaret Montgomery made me participate in theater.  It helped me with my shyness.  It helped me to grow in so many ways.  But college teachers were just cultivating seeds that my elementary, junior high and high school teachers had planted and cultivated.  I appreciate teachers.

            I wish we appreciated teachers more. I wish we went to see them for something right rather than for thinking they did something wrong.  I wish we paid our teachers like they are among the most important professionals in the world.  I wish we could find a way to lessen their load and have others assist with supplementary roles.  I wish that teachers could just be lifted up instead of being torn down. I cannot grant teachers all or any of these wishes. I can, however, lift teachers on National Teachers’ Day and at every opportunity.  I appreciate teachers.

            Now on to the Daily Diary:

Saturday, May 5, 2018 – I walked, attended the Black Belt Community Foundation Grant Awards and worked into the night.  Among others, I communicated with the following: Greene County School Board Member Dr. Carol P. Zippert; Robert Turner, Sr. of Bullock County; Alabama New South Coalition (ANSC) President John Zippert; Shelley Fearson of ANSC; Charles Sanders of Bibb County; Sam Walker of Selma; Ainka Jackson of the Selma Non-Violence Center; and Faya Rose Toure of the Bridge Crossing Jubilee. 

Sunday– I walked and did The Sunday School Lessonwith Dr. Margaret Hardy and Radio Educationwith Perry County School Superintendent John Heard, III.   I handled many matters, attended New Hope Apostolic Church and had dinner with Lelia Gordon. Among others, I communicated with the following: Jennifer Hayes of Tuscaloosa on her birthday; Tami Teague of Montgomery about the birthday of her and John Teague’s son John; Kindaka Sanders of Houston, TX on his birthday; Josh Hayes of Tuscaloosa; and Lowndes County School Superintendent Dr. Daniel Boyd.

Monday– I handled many matters, had lunch with Wallace Community College President Dr. James Mitchell, took my grandchildren on an outing and worked into the night.  Among others, I communicated with the following:  Marion Town Councilman Willie Jackson;  Dr. Fannie McKenzie of Georgia; Dallas County School Board Member Carolyn Bates; Catrena Carter of Jefferson County; Lowndes County Administrator Jackie Thomas; Sheryl Threadgill Matthews of Wilcox County concerning her brother’s death; Felecia Pettaway of Wilcox County; Greene County School Superintendent Dr. James Carter; and Sherrie Mitchell Carter, Khadijah Ishaq and John Pilcher of Selma.

Tuesday– I walked, handled many matters, attended a Democratic Reception and worked into the night.  Among others, I communicated with the following:  Ralph Ervin of Wilcox County; Ron Sparks and Karen Jones of Montgomery; Aubrey Carter of Alabama Power; Greene County School Board Member Leo Branch; Rebecca Marion of Tallapoosa County; Sharon Calhoun of Montgomery; Cornelius Blanding of the Federation of Southern Cooperatives; and Josephine Curtis of Selma.

Wednesday– I walked, handled many matters, traveled to Montgomery, participated in a press conference, returned to Selma, co-hosted Radio Law Lessons, traveled to Greene County, returned to Selma and worked into the night.  Among others, I communicated with the following: former Representative Yusef Salaam; Martha Morgan and Mike Adams of Tuscaloosa County; Gus Townes, Gail Townes, Karen Jones and Jon Broadway of Montgomery; Johnny Ford of Tuskegee; AP Reporter Kim Chandler; Reporter Mike Cason; TV Anchor and Reporter Tim Lennox; and Ginger Avery Buckner of the Alabama Association for Justice. 

Thursday– I walked, handled various matters, traveled to Montgomery, returned to Selma, had lunch with Sharon Wheeler of Montgomery and Carolyn Wheeler of Tennessee, participated in the SOS conference call, made historical remarks at the McRae-Gaines School 40thAnniversary and worked into the night. 

Friday– I walked, handled many matters and gave the commencement speech at Wallace Community College Selma’s graduation.  Among others, I communicated with the following: Consultant Joe Perkins; Dr. Joe Reed of the Alabama Democratic Conference (ADC); John Teague of Montgomery; Jason Copeland of Gadsden; Greene County Circuit Clerk Mattie Atkins; and Dr. Ernest Okeke of Selma.

Epilogue– How can we be thankful for that which we don’t really understand?  How can we be thankful for that which we struggled against?  I try to rise beyond my experiences and see the results of the gifts given to me.  When I can do that, I am most thankful.