As we approach Catholic Schools Week this year, let’s take a moment to appreciate the teachers. The teachers who are approaching the second anniversary of the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced them to learn new ways to reach students almost overnight. The teachers who welcomed students back into classrooms that looked different last year, with masks for everyone and a long list of new rules aimed at keeping everyone — children and adults — safe. And who did that while also teaching students who were learning from home, and somehow helping all of them feel that they were part of the same class, and all in it together. The teachers who this year are instructing students in what seems to be moving toward a new normal, masks notwithstanding, persevering despite rising numbers of COVID-19 infections among students and school personnel, even with vaccinations available for everyone 5 and older. And, yes, the teachers who have moved on after years in the classroom, showing their students that it’s ok — it’s good — to make a change when you have an opportunity to follow a different dream, or even when the old situation doesn’t work for you anymore. Parents are the first teachers of their children, the church tells us, but in our house, at least, teachers have always been invaluable partners, taking the time to know our children, instructing them in their academic subjects, of course, but also in how to navigate the world around them: how to work with friends and how to work with and respect people who might not be their cup of tea, how to play to their strengths, how to ask for help when they need it and accept and learn from constructive criticism, how to approach the world and the people in it with an attitude of love. Because the thing is, while the last two years have been especially challenging, none of this is new. When Caroline, now almost two years out of college, was in preschool, her teacher quickly understood that sleep was not going to happen at naptime for her, and encouraged her to bring books to her cot so she could read during rest time. When Frank, now in college, started in a new preschool at 4 years old, he was a little overwhelmed at first, to the point that he didn’t talk much. By the end of the year, his teacher told me she would sit next to him when he had projects to do so she could listen to him, because otherwise he would skip the work to keep talking. Teresa has had so many teachers who have taken the time to listen when she wants to share her thoughts and opinions, and helped her figure out how to express them. This is my way of saying thank you to the teachers this Catholic Schools Week. If you have an opportunity, I hope you’ll do the same.