The True First Responders

Teachers Nurture Minds and Shape Futures

Having been in the school business for over 40 years, I have had the privilege to witness the effect teachers have on the lives of countless kids. I am also the brother of a retired Chief of Police from a city in the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex who served over four decades in the same municipality. So I know what it means to have someone on the front lines every day, standing in harm’s way to protect the innocent from the nefarious underworld characters.

My many friends and family members who serve in the armed forces are more at risk and less appreciated with every passing year. With war more possible these days, I don’t envy those who sleep in foxholes, jump out of airplanes in the dark of night, swim the vast oceans under the cover of darkness or pick up a rifle and stand a post at any one of our military bases at home or abroad. 

Many nights I sit in my comfortable recliner or at my desk at work, pounding away at the keyboard, reading some message about the latest and greatest product or service that will change the landscape of public education, only to hear the sound of sirens that represent a cadre of emergency responders on their way to sort out the wreckage of some drunk driver, intervene in a hostage crises or something as benign as rescuing that stray kitten from a tree. For police officers, firefighters and paramedics, one never knows what they may encounter as they report for duty and strap on their boots. Having not known this experience, I can only assume that there’s something exhilarating about arriving at the scene of some incident, not knowing what’s behind a situation and what danger may befall them. For those of us who may be hesitant to trod on such scenes, there are but a few that are drawn to this activity, like a moth to a flame, and for those folks, I am truly grateful.

“By recognizing teachers as true first responders, we acknowledge the profound influence they have on shaping not only academic success but also the well-being and resilience of future generations.”

– Gary Kerbow Director of Purchasing, Hurst Euless Bedford ISD, Texas

In the realm of emergency response, the term “first responder” often conjures images of soldiers, ER doctors and nurses, paramedics, firefighters, and law enforcement personnel rushing to the scene of a crisis, or standing by to clean up the wreckage left in the wake of such chaos. While these professions are undoubtedly crucial in times of physical peril, it is imperative to recognize another group of unsung heroes who operate within the educational landscape—teachers. Teachers, often overlooked as first responders, play a pivotal role in shaping the future by providing emotional support, instilling resilience, and fostering a safe haven for their students.

Teachers are the front line of emotional support for students. In times of crisis, whether personal or societal, students often turn to their teachers for guidance and understanding. Teachers are trained to identify signs of distress and offer emotional first aid. Their ability to empathize and connect with students provides a crucial foundation for healing and resilience.

Education extends beyond textbooks; it involves preparing students to navigate the complexities of life. Teachers are instrumental in developing resilience in the face of adversity. By fostering a growth mindset, encouraging problem-solving, and promoting a positive learning environment, these amazing people equip students with the tools necessary to overcome challenges both in and out of the classroom.

Schools serve as sanctuaries where students feel secure. In the face of societal upheavals, economic uncertainties, or natural disasters, schools can become the stabilizing force for many students. And it is the teachers that create safe spaces where students can express themselves, share their fears, and find solace amidst chaos.

Our teachers are often the first to notice signs of distress or mental health concerns in students. Through daily interactions, they gain valuable insights into their students’ well-being, which positions them to provide early intervention, connecting students with the necessary resources and support systems to address mental health challenges promptly.

Our teachers play such a crucial role in fostering a sense of community within their classrooms and schools. In times of crisis, the collective bond becomes a powerful force. By promoting empathy, understanding, and collaboration, teachers create the environment where students learn to support one another and build solidarity.

In the tapestry of first responders, teachers weave a unique and indispensable thread. Their impact extends far beyond the confines of the classroom, reaching into the emotional and psychological realms of their students’ lives. By recognizing teachers as true first responders, we acknowledge the profound influence they have on shaping not only academic success but also the well-being and resilience of future generations. It is imperative that society values and supports these educators, ensuring they have the resources and recognition necessary to continue their vital role in nurturing minds and shaping the future.

For me, the first responder I want responding to my emergency is one who has been loved and cared for by a teacher, and who has been taught to read, write, do math, reason, solve problems and do it without judgment, except for the judgment that makes her or him an effective first responder. That’s the one I want reading my vital signs, intervening in a crisis or cutting open my body to perform some life-saving procedure.   For it is from the profession of teaching that all professions are made.