The Gift of Education

Karla Hernandez Mats, President of United Teachers of Dade

The holiday season allows us to spotlight the humanity that each of us should display on a daily basis; benevolent actions that we would all like to see more often and less seasonally because they demonstrate compassion. This season brings our communities together as we celebrate gratitude, love, and acts of kindness.

We should celebrate those acts of kindness as often as we can. They serve as great examples to our children on the types of attitudes and actions they should aspire to possess. I always find it necessary to remind people, especially adults, that we must set the example, as we are instilling values in our children for the future, every day. 

With this in mind, I want to take a moment to celebrate the wonderful educators of Miami-Dade who recently came together to help out some of the communities that were affected by Hurricane Michael earlier this year.

Being that Miami-Dade residents are no strangers to hurricanes, their destruction, and the loss of normalcy they leave behind, our teachers decided to roll up their sleeves and help. Together, our members organized and collected school supplies for students and the education workforce in Jackson County, FL., a small community with only 15 public schools in total, but one that was greatly impacted by the storm.

Through this effort, United Teachers of Dade educators were able to pack a U-Haul van filled with books, paper, journals, crayons, folders, pencils, and other supplies. They then took the 15-hour journey to personally make the delivery on Thanksgiving week. When they arrived, they were greeted by Mr. Dave Galloway, President of Jackson Classroom Educators Association, who was overjoyed and appreciative with the contribution made by our Miami-Dade educators.

As a community that is faced with the threat of a hurricane on the yearly basis, we know that an integral part of every recovery effort is the ability to bring services back. Educators, in particular, are acutely aware of the positive effect that public schools have on the recovery effort. Our public schools feed our children and bring back a sense of structure and routine, but most importantly, they offer the gift of education. In a time where everything can feel lost, the gift of knowledge is something that always belongs to us and cannot be destroyed as materials things can.

As we think about the holiday season, let’s make sure to instill the gift of kindness and education in our community. This holiday season, we highly encourage educational gifts that stimulate the mind, inspire creativity, and provoke thought. Let’s thoughtfully give our children something they can keep with them forever. Let’s give them the gift of knowledge.

Karla Hernandez Mats is the President of United Teachers of Dade, the largest teachers’ union in the State of Florida, representing over 25,000 education professionals and their rights.

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