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Graves: Coming back to teach where once they were taught

Thus, these nine rising teacher stars may very well not land back in Mitchell. But they are certainly some of the most promising prospects.

Joe Graves.jpg
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Tuesday of last week was Bing Crosby’s birthday. His 119th to be specific. I’ll admit the party at my house for my favorite crooner was small but the cake was good. Der Bingle is not just my favorite crooner, but flat-out my favorite singer. Part of that is my taste in music. Basically if a song was written after 1949, I”m not a fan. If it was written before that, there’s a good chance I am.

One such song for which I have an inordinate fondness is Keep the Home-Fires Burning, a patriotic song out of England that proved so popular they used it again during World War II. The first part of the refrain goes as such:

Keep the home-fires burning,

While your hearts are yearning.

Though your lads are far away

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They dream of home.

It was a call to the British people to uphold the home front, especially the homes of the soldiers they had sent across the Channel. It recognized the homesickness of people who must be away and the special place most people hold for their hearth and hometown.

Which is a very long way of saying that one of the foremost places schools should look for future teacher candidates is their own classrooms. Sure, such students will graduate and many will leave our community for college. But away needn’t mean forever and, if people are attracted to their hometown, there is no reason those pursuing studies in the Schools of Education shouldn’t look to come home to teach where once they were taught. And if our product is solid — as it is very much here in Mitchell, just take a look at our senior class — what a wonderful candidate pool into which to dive.

Dr. Joe Childs, MHS principal and his faculty and staff recognized that very fact Tuesday as they hosted the “MHS Future Teacher Signing Day” in the cafeteria. Present were Heaven Brinker, Gabby Garrels, Maddy Henkel, Jayden Hohn, Olivia Huber, Samantha Kludt, Morgan Schutte, Liam Semmler and Zachary Van Meter, a slate of future teachers which makes me extraordinary optimistic about the future of education in our country, state, and hopefully, Mitchell (by which I mean that hopefully most or all will come back to the Corn Palace City.)

But though four years is an increasingly brief time to me, it seems like quite a long time to the average 18-year old. And college has a funny way of changing your perspective. A lot can happen in four years. People determined to secure their teaching certificate when they step off the Corn Palace stage can change their mind and pursue an entirely different major. If that weren’t true, I’d be writing for the New York Times right now. Or the Kornfield Kounty Chronicle.

Even if they do stick it out and achieve their dream of becoming a teacher, they may not do so in Mitchell. A spouse may call them to another city or state. We may not have a vacancy in their field. Brighter lights may beckon.

Thus, these nine rising teacher stars may very well not land back in Mitchell. But they are certainly some of the most promising prospects. As are DWU grads who often find their way into our classrooms, to the benefit of our students, though they have arguably made Mitchell their second home, arriving at the same conclusion.

And that conclusion is that these are people we need to cultivate, to let know that Mitchell cares, and cares a lot. Doing so can be effective. I know this because the Mitchell Community Scholarship Fund, which provides a scholarship to everyone of our grads, had an almost immediate impact when it was founded more than 20 years ago. Almost instantly, the percentage of students attending college rose. That wasn’t because, I believe, that the scholarship deflected the high cost of university. After all, $650 or $700 is unlikely to turn college from out or reach to manageable, though every dollar helps. But it does say something important. It says we believe in you. You matter to us.

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And, ultimately, we hope someday you choose to come home. Until then, we’ll keep the homefires burning.

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