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Durango teachers, staff deserve respect for their dedication to students

Durango is so fortunate to have a highly dedicated team of teachers, support staff and administrators who work hard to provide our children a positive experience.

Unfortunately, a huge decline in the number of individuals who are choosing to enter the teaching profession is occurring. What can our community do to retain our talented team of educators?

When you look at countries that are thriving both with teacher recruitment and student achievement, we find a very different scenario than what we experience in our nation, in our state and even in our community.

Consider Finland, which out performs the world. Teachers are highly respected members of the Finnish society and enjoy esteem akin to sports athletes and doctors in our country. The very best and brightest go into the profession, as they are encouraged by the respect granted to those within that profession. While money helps – and I’m proud of our efforts around salary reform – studies show that respect has an even greater impact.

Just this past week, our own teachers have shared instances of being berated, often in front of children, for things that have no connection to the safety and welfare of children. I hear more and more teachers questioning whether their passion and commitment is worth the abuse they sometimes find from a very small segment of our community.

I’ve touched on our nation’s civility in past columns. I continue to see the transfer of the anger and divisiveness into our community. Not one teacher, bus driver, paraprofessional, secretary or administrator wakes up with anything but good intent to serve the children of Durango. Do we as educators make mistakes? Absolutely, we are human, too. Yet we see vicious and slanderous attacks when one of these individuals doesn’t meet another’s expectations.

This same issue continues to affect school districts in their ability to recruit coaches and activity sponsors. While most value our extracurricular activities and their benefits to our children, we often forget that we can’t do it without coaches. Despite recent improvements, our coaches are still compensated poorly for the time and commitment they make to our athletes, only to face criticism, vicious social media posts and harsh communication from some parents and community members.

I call on our community to recognize the dedication of the public, charter and private school staff that has committed their time and efforts to our children. When mistakes are made, let’s approach them with a problem-solving mentality, while also celebrating their victories.

Of course, I face great scrutiny as well. Despite committees of parents and members of our community that advise, guide and provide oversight to district operations, false allegations emerge that have no factual foundation. It’s unfortunate when opinions are formed from conjecture and assumptions, and I encourage and welcome the opportunity to engage in conversations to provide clarity and facts about areas of concern. I hope you are able to attend my next “Coffee” from 7:15 to 9 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 22, at Durango Doughworks, 2653 Main Ave.

I’m proud of the hard work our district is doing and exceptionally proud of the staff members who have committed themselves to the children of Durango. Please go out of your way to say thank you to these great people! It will mean so much while helping to create job satisfaction and retain these great people in our community. Learn about the issues affecting our educators and staff and support and embrace them as they continue to do great things for our kids and our community.

Email Durango School District 9-R Superintendent Dan Snowberger at dsnowberger@durango.k12.co.us.