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It’s Teachers Appreciation Week, May 2 to May 6, and I think we should all give it a “good thinking to” — aside from wearing different colors everyday to celebrate their role in our community. It’s said that it takes a village to raise a child — and I add that teachers are a cornerstone of the village.

It’s fitting I think to have it in the same month we also celebrate Mother’s Day, as we tend to burden our teachers in schools with the idea that they are supposed to be knights in shining armor, purveyors of great knowledge, and as such must conduct themselves like our ‘saintly’ mothers.

News Flash: They are not. They are people like you and me. Their needs and aspirations are as integral to the village or community, as our children’s are. And, teachers teach when they are inspired from within the community to impart their knowledge to others and allow their students to ‘grow’ beyond even their imagination.

While some explain it as a calling “from God to teach our students so they can be well educated” — I believe a teacher is a person that shares not only their knowledge but their love of, and for learning.

Teachers are the mothers and fathers that work hard to provide for their family, while guiding their child or children with infinite love and patience. It’s the faifeau who prays for our community while understanding our human weaknesses. And it’s our friends, our neighbors, and even strangers who share with us the joy of living, the kindness of sharing and the knowledge that there is a tomorrow, sometimes even better than today.

When we send our children to school, or even ourselves, we are in essence asking strangers to be kind and share their knowledge and expand our children’s or our own minds.

There are two teachers I remember from going to school — Mrs. Morrow, my 3rd grade teacher, at Fia Iloa Elementary — who taught me French and the multiplication tables; and, Mrs. Greenburg, who taught me English and the Classics in my Sophomore year — at Samoana High School. They are lessons that have stayed with me throughout my life, to a point I made sure I travelled to France, albeit briefly (and no, I don’t speak French); I can still automatically multiply, divide and calculate up to 12s in my 67-year-old mind; I am a voracious reader to this day of all genre, and I’m currently a newspaper editor — something I never thought I would end up doing.

There are at least several other people I can point to in my life that have been keystones and one I must acknowledge here is Mrs. Mary Pritchard, who taught me what it meant to live one’s culture through art.

But the best teachers I can point to in my life — to this day — are my parents and siblings, my children and my friends.

To my parents and siblings, I attribute my ongoing curiosity of the unknown, and to embrace images that constantly happen in my mind because I can imagine them manifesting into reality. And to this day I still enjoy problem solving, in whatever shape it appears. Then there is my abiding faith in God, family and life — their values learned from my parents and my siblings (Lopini, Luki & Hefty).

To my children, I can never say thank you enough for your ever-forgiving love that “is”. We have taught each other the value of family.

And to my friends — my siblings are included — I have to say faafetai tele for teaching me the value of treading upon paths untrodden and joy yet to be experienced. Appreciating that each friendship is in itself a gift from God.

It’s Teachers Appreciation Week — celebrate learning and thank those who are willing to teach for whatever reason. Be a teacher’s pet: Give them an apple, a prayer, and tell them “alofa atu”.