I will always remember the teacher who made a difference in my life. Her name was Ms. Gallego, and she was my high school business technology teacher. As a Mexican-American growing up in Tucson, Arizona, I had no idea how to get to college, let alone have a career—although my parents believed that a college degree would be my passport to the world.
In Ms. Gallego, I found a beacon: a strong Latina with a college degree and a profession! She loved teaching students, was honest with us about what it would take to succeed, pushed us harder than anyone ever had before, and convinced us that we could do anything we set our minds to. When I became a teacher (at the same high school I attended), I emulated Ms. Gallego’s empowering approach to her craft. Decades later, I still see myself as a teacher; classrooms are where I find my inspiration and strength. While talking to my former teacher at my thirtieth high school reunion, all I could think was, “I hope I made you proud.”
On this Teacher Appreciation Day, I want to recognize you, New York City’s 79,000 public school teachers. You have made our students and their parents proud–and I am proud to be your Chancellor. It was a pleasure to meet many of you during my recent five-borough listening tour, and I look forward to getting to know even more teachers as I continue to visit classrooms and schools throughout the City. Listening to you, I am struck by your commitment to your students, your passion for professional growth, and your willingness to make your classrooms laboratories, not just for academic excellence, but also for social justice. These are profound investments in our children’s future and in the future of this City.
While talking to my former teacher at my thirtieth high school reunion, all I could think was, “I hope I made you proud.” – Chancellor Richard Carranza
I am sure you will receive well-deserved accolades from your principals and other staff members today, but I also encourage you to appreciate one another. Please thank the teachers who have had an impact on your practice or who have been trusted friends or thought partners. If you prefer doing this in writing, feel free to use our online Thank You tool.
I cannot let this day pass without recognizing you as valued co-teachers and thought partners. Thank you for discussing the issues that matter most to you, your students, and your school communities. Thank you for working alongside me as we seek solutions to our most pressing educational challenges.
Most importantly, thank you for being what Ms. Gallego was for me: the teacher your students will remember as their touchstone, the person who empowered them to chase their dreams.
Richard A. Carranza