Teachers prepare us for tomorrow
Teachers are a blessed group of people. They work with so many problems confronting them before they even walk through the door of a school. To them we give our most precious treasure with the hope that they will burnish the silver and polish the gold, in the end returning to us a valuable possession.
The County is no stranger to quality teachers. As impoverished as this region is our teachers struggle to show our students that there is hope in hard work, study and dedication. They work hard to inculcate the values and sensibilities that build courage and strength in all of us. We have yet to establish a national holiday honoring teachers but it should be done.
One teacher from memories past came to mind. U.S. Sen. Angus King visited the Star City prior to announcing that he would seek a second term. Gathered in the warmth of Sopresso Cafe was a small crowd of fans and interested parties on that sunny, spring day. Joining the crowd: Ms. Mabel Desmond of Mapleton. It was a timely meeting.
Years before she had tried to teach many a youngster how to warble a few notes to songs familiar and foreign. In the spring of many years she helped organize songfests, and teach the occasional class on spelling or math.
Finishing her teaching career, she went to Augusta as a representative of people in Aroostook County. She was a solid champion of education issues. When then-Gov. King spoke of his vision for computers in the classroom, she very willingly shepherded the legislative materials to establish one of the first programs to give students laptops. At a time when the internet was from outer space, this humble teacher embraced the ideals of what these tools could do for the growth of the state, our County and our students.
Sen. King proudly recounts the effort Ms. Desmond made to see to it that Maine was as ready as it could be in this new world of internet, cell phones, and other modern implements.
Twenty-plus years have passed and still Ms. Desmond stands as a sterling example of leadership and values. That was a fearful time. Strife was everywhere and many of us worried about losing jobs, houses and the world to catastrophe. Ms. Desmond, Gov. King and other leaders did not shirk the responsibility all political leaders have to boldly step forth into the future knowing nothing of what was in front of them. They led.
Today, students in Maine have an edge that gives pride to the state of Maine.
Children are a precious resource in this County. When tragedy has visited, parents and children have rallied to the cause. The goal is to support those who are defenseless and those who need succor at a dark time. We cannot know what the future will bring. All that our teachers and we can do is to train our students to use their minds, stamina and faith to make tomorrow a better place for all. That is a dream that ascends from the ordinary to the extraordinary.
Now we face a serious dilemma of parents not from here. But these parents, too, want their kids to feel safe, secure and learn about how to make the world a better place. Ten years ago China turned on every siren, stopped all traffic, and stood silently for a moment to mourn the loss of students in a horrible earthquake. My own students boldly mourned the loss. In that moment of chaos they grew and became part of the larger world. They honored the sacred memory of those lost to the vagaries of nature. Ms. Desmond would have thrilled to see these strangers showcase support and decency for people they did not know.
The future is for the children. As adults we cannot let our fears rule our children. We can only give them the tools and courage to step forward into the future.
Ms. Desmond is one of many who has taught that lesson year upon year. Her children have continued that as have all of her students. The future will soon be the past and our children will have only the lessons we teach them as guides for what to do. Ultimately, it will be their choice on how to solve the problems of tomorrow.
Thank you, Ms. Desmond, and all the teachers who have given so much. Shoulder to shoulder we go boldly into that tomorrow, knowing that our teachers have done their best and we are better for it.
Orpheus Allison is a photojournalist living in The County who graduated from UMPI and earned a master of liberal arts degree from the University of North Carolina. He began his journalism career at WAGM television later working in many different areas of the US. After 20 years of television he changed careers and taught in China and Korea.