See the need, be the difference. It’s a phrase from a discussion I had as a child with a teacher who I consider an unforgettable mentor. Teachers are the lifeline to giving our children and our children’s children knowledge, and knowledge is power—the power to know your limits and strengths, debate your beliefs, see the need, and be the difference. This power in education is ours for the taking, yet we often times forget that our teachers are vital to our ability to educate our future.

I suppose that one could say I am well-suited to give my very humble opinion on what teachers in our public school systems need today. My grandfather, mother, and sister were teachers, and now I find myself a teacher of sorts, mentoring my three young sons. Yet I hesitate because I have not had to teach while earning little more than minimum wage, or teach behind security doors and metal detectors, or teach children whose bellies are hungry and emotions raw from absent parents who are merely trying to survive. But what I can share, with confidence and conviction, is what I have seen is missing and what can be the difference.

We need to value the education our teachers provide and that means making the investment in our teachers. Invest in their intellect, incentivize further advancement in the educational field, reward creativity, and provide the monetary means to do so. We need to promote local partnerships between school system administrators, community organizations, and educators to provide resources to teachers that allow them to reach out for assistance to nurture and care for our children beyond the four corners of the classroom. We need to create a system where teachers have the ability to invest themselves in the success of the schools in which they teach, whether it be by incentive performance, curriculum impact, or administration assistance.

Finally, we need to give our time, intellect, and resources to reach out to those dreaming of forming the minds of our children and communicate to them this: contributions of one’s own creativity will never go unnoticed in life because each of us has the ability to be the difference—be passionate and be committed for the sake of our children and our children’s children. Your imprint in life will forever be known.