Honoring Truly Great Teachers

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(Intelligencer Editorial)
The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register

Really excellent school teachers, the kind whose influence sticks with their students throughout their lives, seldom get the credit they so richly deserve. That will change for some of them during an event scheduled for this evening.

Members of the late Lee Alexander West's family have chosen to honor his memory in one of the most thoughtful, wonderful ways possible.

West, a 15-year-old freshman at Steubenville High School, died in a fire on Jan. 31, 2012. About a year ago, his family held a memorial service for the well-liked young man.

Since his passing, West's family has paid tribute to him in truly outstanding ways. His mother, Cookie West, has held annual community birthday parties at Belleview Park and hosted family basketball games at the Martin Luther King Jr. Recreation Center.

This year, she came up with something very, very special.

She decided a memorial service to be held at 6 p.m. today at the Tower of Power Church will honor educators. Specifically, West said she wanted to recognize "the teacher who most impacted (her son's) life in a positive way."

SHS students were asked to nominate teachers who have made the most beneficial differences in their lives, too. During the service this evening, one educator who helped Lee West and three others nominated by students will be honored.

What a magnificent idea!

Many of us remember teachers who went far above and beyond the call of duty to ensure not just that we knew the subject matter, but that we learned lessons that served us well for many years. Other than the occasional "thank you" and, perhaps, recognition by their peers and a few parents, such educators content themselves with realizing the impacts they have made. They deserve more.

It says much about Cookie West - and about the kind of young man her son was - that she has chosen to put the spotlight on excellent teachers.

Congratulations to her and the educators who will be honored. Here's hoping her idea spreads.