Teachers... they are as varied as crayons in a Crayola box. Some are bright, some neutral, some new, some seasoned--but for all their differences, they share the same goal--their life's work is dedicated to imparting knowledge as they challenge their students to learn and grow. It is hard to believe that teachers really do have lives of their own, for they arrive at school when morning has not yet fully come awake, and they stay while the darkness of night descends on the playgrounds outside their windows.

There was a time when they only had to worry about failing grades and poor conduct. Like worn-out history books, those days are gone. Today's teachers are expected to be surrogate parents, psychologists, part-time policemen , nurses, comforters, and miracle workers. The importance of the basic 3 R's have been replaced by the reality of the new 3 D's: Drugs, Divorce, and Despair. And yet, through it all, and perhaps because of it all, teachers keep right on teaching, trying harder than ever before to "gift" their students with solid educations, self-worth, opportunities to excel and to believe in themselves by discovering their talents and ambitions, whether in the classroom, on the playing field, in music and art classes, or soaring to new heights when their imaginations and dreams are encouraged.

On any given schoolday, teachers open up, for a lifetime, the magnificent gift of reading, the ongoing pleasures of math, the adventures of geography and science, the legacy and lessons of history, the enthrallment of music art, literature and languages, the demands and accomplishments of physical education and athletic competition. Teachers are loved and scorned, respected and derided, remembered and forgotten. They are laughed with, laughed at, and laughed about. They raise their own families and are devoted to someone else's children. They pay for the stickers that delight a little child's heart, slip warm mittens into the pocket of the student that has none, provide a classroom of security and safety when home is a battleground, tutor after school, guide the pregnant teen, cheer at games, counsel anxious hearts, and fall asleep wondering why they feel so tired.

Teachers are the reason why airplanes fly, computers program, ballets are danced, novels are written, cancers researched, lawsuits won, skyscrapers built, and "art" decorates refrigerator doors. Life's biggest, boldest, brightest ideas--life's honors, achievements and accomplishments occur because somewhere, sometime, someone touched our lives--and it all began with a teacher.