Knoxville group hopes to inspire teachers

Amy Crawford (Reach Them To Teach Them)
Amy Crawford (Reach Them To Teach Them)

KNOXVILLE (WATE) – If you have ever taught, you know the job is both rewarding and exhausting. A Knoxville group is hoping to give teachers a boost.

On Tuesday, November 1 at 6:00 p.m. over 1,500 educators, youth pastors, coaches and role models will gather at the Tennessee Theatre for Reach Them to Teach Them’s annual event. The keynote speaker, John O’Leary, is the author of the book “On Fire.”

Crawford, who is a Knox County teacher, founded Reach Them To Teach Them in 2006. She said she returned to teaching after starting a family, had many of the same students, but noticed some of them had lost their passion for learning.

Feeling weary and needing a firm reminder of why she needed to keep teaching after nearly 20 years in the classroom, Crawford turned to an old cassette recording of Dr. Guy Doud sharing his insights as National Teacher of the Year. She said she heard Doud talked about what really mattered in teaching is making a difference in her students’ lives.

Crawford was able to get Doud to come to Knoxville to speak to local teachers. She started Reach Them to Teach Them after she says she realized that teachers make a profound impact on student’s lives, but that they also needed help. The non-profit is a call to teachers to be a positive influence in the life of a child by building an authentic relationship with an adult role model.

Now in it’s 11th year, Crawford said she really hopes to get to “fire things up.” This year the theme is “all-in” and Reach Them to Teach Them is inviting anyone who impacts students throughout the school day, including everyone from bus drivers, cafeteria workers, custodial staff, secretaries to teachers.

“We want to appreciate teachers and the sacrifices they make, we want to inspire them and give them something that brings the light back into their eyes when they walk into their classroom, but more importantly and most importantly is the challenge,” said Crawford. “We want teachers to walk away from the Reach Them to Teach Them event different than the way they came in, more mindful, more cognizant of the power they have to impact the lives of their students.”

Food City and community sponsors have stepped-up to sponsor the event so there is no cost to attend, according to Crawford. A Petro’s dinner will also be provided to all guests.

“It is tough to be a teacher and it is challenging, but it is also tough to be a student. It’s challenging to be a student. In today’s world there are many broken homes, many students who don’t have anybody in their lives to see something in them that they don’t see in themselves, so the job of a teacher is absolutely critical for the kids.”

Volunteers in Reach Them to Teach Them are called the “dream team.” they are made up of community leaders, ministers, coaches, parents and many others united by their commitment to invest in the future leaders of the world. Since starting, the group has grown to include educators outside of Knoxville.

“An authentic relationship with an adult role model is vital to the successful development of any child, regardless of race, creed or socio-economic status,” said Crawford. “Kids must have someone who believes in them, challenges them, and talks with them about what really matters in life.”

For more information on Reach Them to Teach Them and how to get involved, visit the organization’s website.

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