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Delivered by Distinguished Speaker Rebecca Mieliwocki, 2012 National Teacher of the Year There is no more essential a profession responsible for shaping and safeguarding our future than that of teachers. Teachers provide our young people with the skills and knowledge they need to create the better world we all wish to live in. Yet, American public school teachers are unappreciated, tired, overwhelmed with responsibilities not typically theirs, burnt out, and under relentless attack. Fewer and fewer people see teaching as a viable profession that can sustain them financially or emotionally. If we hope to restore faith and admiration to the profession of teaching, we have to remind our teachers just how incredibly vital they are. If we hope to attract talented new individuals into this rewarding career path, they need to know more about the impact and influence great teachers can have. To truly elevate the profession we need to use our collective voice and energy to advocate for avenues for our skill and talent to be recognized, supported, and celebrated. But more than any of that, we need to remind everyone that teaching our young people is a uniquely human endeavor. The greatest gift we can give one another is the courage to be unique, to be human, to be different, to be incredible.

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