Teacher appreciation days held in Canada and Australia

December 23, 2004

MILL BAY, Canada — Baha'i communities across Canada and Australia paid respect to the teaching profession at events that marked World Teachers' Day.

The role of the educator is given prime importance in the Baha'i Faith, and Baha'i communities in various countries have been active supporters of the occasion, which was initiated by UNESCO in 1993 and is observed internationally in October.

In Mill Bay, British Columbia, Canada, teachers at five schools received a framed quotation from the Baha'i writings that indicate the importance of teachers: "The education and training of children is among the most meritorious acts of humankind."

Baha'is also presented the teachers with gifts of homemade fudge and plant arrangements.

Across the country, the Baha'is of Richmond Hill, Ontario organized a teacher appreciation event on 23 October 2004 that included a dinner and show at a local community center.

"Our teachers don't have lucrative corporate bonuses, commissions, or large salaries," said Bahador Derakhshani, one of the organizers.

"Yet their work is so critical in shaping the minds and soul of every future mother, father, doctor, lawyer, engineer, executive."

The dance academy of a nearby Baha'i-inspired school in Stratford, Ontario, Nancy Campbell Collegiate, performed dances that depicted topics such as unity and the elimination of racial and social prejudice.

Australian national Baha'i education officer Kath Podger (front left), Victorian state parliamentary secretary for education Liz Beattie (front right), with participants at the appreciation event in Manningham. Slideshow
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Australian national Baha'i education officer Kath Podger (front left), Victorian state parliamentary secretary for education Liz Beattie (front right), with participants at the appreciation event in Manningham.

The principal of the school, Cora McNamara, addressed the gathering on the importance of the role of teachers.

Organizers of teacher appreciation events in Australia reported some teachers saying that it was the first time in their careers that they had received such recognition and appreciation for their efforts.

Events were held in Australia, in such places as Cairns, Darwin, Melbourne, Hobart, and Perth.

In Melbourne, teachers, school principals, a local mayor, and members of parliament gathered at a dinner and presentation ceremony for teachers.

The Victorian state parliamentary secretary for education, Liz Beattie, was the keynote speaker for the evening.

"I commend the Manningham Baha'i community for hosting this dinner to pay tribute to teachers," Mrs. Beattie said.

"They are not always given the generosity and the credit that they deserve," she said.

Mrs. Beattie encouraged the audience to reflect on the effect that their own teachers had made on their lives.

"It is important that as a community we acknowledge not only the dedication of teachers but also their professionalism," she said.

National Baha'i education officer Kath Podger also addressed the gathering.

"The Baha'i Faith teaches that our true reality is spiritual, rather than physical and that one of the attributes of man is his nobility," said Ms. Podger, a member of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Australia.

Referring to the responsibility of educators in light of this understanding, she said it is their responsibility to "assist the child to develop and take ownership for their own spiritual progress."

Mrs. Beattie presented six school principals with books for the school library and 80 schoolteachers with certificates of appreciation.

Ms. Podger presented certificates of appreciation to 15 volunteer teachers of Baha'i children's classes.

The certificates included the quote from the Baha'i writings that Mrs. Beattie had referred to in her speech: "The education of children is as the work of a loving gardener who tends his young plants in the flowering fields. The question of goodly character is of first importance."

Australian Baha'is also organized morning teas, dinners, and presentations at school assemblies.

In the weeks leading up to teacher appreciation events in Australia, children attending Baha'i religious education classes in government schools and after school Baha'i education classes, showed appreciation to their teachers for the contribution they made to their lives.