Teaching has always been a tough, if rewarding, profession.
It just keeps getting tougher.
As Taos County area schools start into a new year, we want to acknowledge the many challenges educators and students face - and to say we believe firmly in their abilities to succeed.
Teachers still have to teach the basics: reading, writing, math, history and science. Those remain the absolute foundation even in a rapidly changing world.
But, in order to deal with a lot of modern issues over which they have no control, teachers also have to be counselors, mentors and sometimes referees (with both parents and students). They are working with students who must overcome a multitude of personal, and often traumatic, challenges to remain in school.
To top it all off, today teachers have to keep up with technology that changes almost every nanosecond, both to stay ahead of their students' innate abilities with digital gadgets and to make sure students have the skills to thrive once they leave school.
And none of these additional responsibilities have come with much of a pay raise.
The schools of today are a far cry from the schools of older generations. Teachers have had to adjust accordingly if they are to be effective in the classroom.
Likewise, many of our Taos County youth have to dig deep to find the fortitude, courage and strength to stay in school and learn. Just like teachers, many of the challenges they face are beyond the control of students. What is in their control is to decide that they want to learn and to succeed, that they are worth it, that they can rise above their problems.
Taos schools have risen to the many challenges over and over again. Despite slashed budgets, politics and the heavy blame that comes when test scores aren't up to par, teachers, staff and students keep trying.
In Taos, a town proud of its tricultural heritage and traditional land-based knowledge, schools also are trying to acknowledge and honor those traditions while keeping students abreast of the incredible technological changes that will impact them in ways we can barely imagine.
We urge the community and parents to have high expectations for their children and to support teachers at every opportunity. When we have high expectations and set the academic bar high for teachers and students, they will rise to meet it. Believing in their abilities is half the battle.