Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Savor It

Yesterday County Executive Calvin Ball announced that the county, in collaboration with the school system, would be giving teachers an $1,800 bonus in recognition of their work during the pandemic. From Dr. Ball’s Facebook page:

For our teachers and support staff, these past two years have been especially grueling, and I believe it is more important than ever to retain those committed educators who make our school system among the best in the nation. I’m thrilled to announce that the Howard County Board of Education matched my commitment of $8 million in bonuses for our educators. 

Together, we have secured $16.1 million in bonuses for all our full-time* Howard County Public School System employees. I appreciate that our Superintendent and Board of Education have acted and joined me in demonstrating our gratitude for our educators as a reward for their hard work and dedication to our children.

A bonus is a gesture in good faith to recognize exceptional performance, effort, and dedication. It is symbolic in that it could never come close to the actual “cash value” of what has been accomplished. Yet it is also a concrete example of thanks from our community to our educators. One that they can “take to the bank”, as it were.

I’m happy that Howard County and the school system have made this a priority. It takes work and collaboration to make things like this happen, despite what you read on social media. Some folks seem to think that large sums of money are given away with a wave of a magic wand and solely for the purpose of showing off or impressing the public. I suspect people like this have never worked in public service.

I’m inclined to say a few words about other things. Things that our teachers really need that are as yet unaddressed. And you know I will, eventually. But today I want to stay focused on gratitude for this one thing. 

Let us just sit with this for a moment. While announcements like this are made by administrators and politicians, this moment is for teachers. Can we just take the time to stop and savor it?

Our teachers have worked extremely hard and the pandemic is not over yet. Many times they have felt frustrated, downhearted, and burned out since March of 2020. They have pivoted, adapted, folded and multiplied themselves to respond to current challenges and community expectations. A bonus in recognition of their work is a sign that the school system and county government see and acknowledge the importance of their sacrifices.

It’s so easy to rush on past the good news to other issues and complaints. We do this all the time. Don’t. Let this action provide us with an opportunity to fully experience our gratitude to teachers during an incredibly hard time. This is their moment. 

It’s always a good time to send a note of appreciation to a teacher who is making a difference. I imagine that it would particularly gratifying to receive a note right now that not only spoke to their special qualities, but let them know how happy you are that they will be receiving a bonus for their extraordinary efforts.

You are worth it. You have made a difference. Our community is grateful. You can feel proud of what you have done. 

What an exceptional bonus that would be. 

*Correction from BOE Member Jolene Mosely: The bonus is for full time and part time employees. The $1,800 is prorated for part time employees.

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