All success starts with teachers
Shopping for new school supplies reminds me of my own “back to school” memories. Trapper Keepers, highlighters, pencil sharpener, index cards and the like remind me of the excitement of seeing my friends again and exploring something new.
Now as a parent, for my own children to experience those emotions it requires me to release my twin daughters and college-bound son to people who will spend more time with them than anyone else aside from our family: teachers.
A strong case can be made that teachers are the most important position in a community. They shape and mold any children in their care – no matter their gender, race, language or home life – to be the best they can be. They are teachers not just of their subjects, but teachers of life lessons, imprinting on each one to be bold and imaginative in the world and workforce they will soon join. They are often a primary difference-maker in the life of a child.
In our community, we – the Chamber – recognize that and take an active role in equipping and empowering our school systems. Among our many annual events and programs, the last week of July and into August the Chamber celebrated “New Teacher Week,” where we held new teacher breakfast events for Decatur City and Morgan County new teachers and shared with them how the Chamber can support them in their new adventure in our community.
Later that week, the Chamber held the annual Teachers on Tour event, a day-long program where new teachers from Morgan County, Decatur City and Hartselle City systems toured industry education partners to learn about careers and development opportunities for students, enjoy fellowship and networking, and discover more about their new community.
The Chamber’s goal in having a relationship with our education partners is to support their work preparing the next generation. That starts with our efforts to expand early childhood education opportunities with pre-K classrooms, advocating for workforce and career technical training, providing audiences for school leaders to discuss the state of our schools with the community, create hands-on environments where students can imagine their lives in a career or classroom after high school, and leadership development programs for middle and high school students to sharpen their skills and connect with their peers across systems. It is our honor to provide these and other chances for young people to grow.
But where it starts is with teachers. Schools are the identity of a community, and teachers have made the choice to be servant leaders on the front lines with our young people. Every success story starts with a teacher. We all have – myself included – that ONE who believed in us and inspired us to be a better version of ourselves. And while we celebrate them with breakfast events and community information, the Chamber’s support for their work is both year-round and hands-on. And it’s one of the most important things as a community we can do.
Amber Fortenberry is the director of talent development and recruitment for the Chamber, a position she has held since 2018.