Guest Column

Teachers are molders of dreams

By Brian Schroeder
Posted 5/19/22

Guy Doud became a hero of sorts to many teachers across the nation when he was honored by President Reagan in 1987 as “Teacher of the Year.”

Doud says his meeting with the president in …

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Guest Column

Teachers are molders of dreams


Guy Doud became a hero of sorts to many teachers across the nation when he was honored by President Reagan in 1987 as “Teacher of the Year.”

Doud says his meeting with the president in the Oval Office became especially significant when Reagan pulled a worn piece of paper out of his pocket and read to him what was essentially a tribute to the teaching profession.

These are the words that were read from that piece of paper:

“You are the molders of their dreams,

the gods who build or crush their young beliefs …

of right and wrong.

You are the spark that sets aflame the poet’s hand

or lights the flame of some great singer’s song,

you are the god of the young …

the very young.

You are the guardian of a million dreams,

Your every smile or frown can heal …

or pierce the heart.

Yours are a hundred lives …

a thousand lives,

yours the pride of loving them …

and the sorrow, too.

Your patient work,

your touch, make you the gods of hope,

who fill their souls with dreams …

to make those dreams come true.”

By the end of the poem, Doud says he and the president were both visibly choked up — easy to see why.

But while this dramatizes the romantic side of teaching, most teachers would be quick to point out that it is rare to experience this kind of pedagogical magic on a regular basis. Moreover, education loses some very fine people who too often have been soured on the whole experience.

“If this is what it means to be a teacher,” they groan, “it’s not for me.”

Others are more poignant when they look at the whole classroom learning thing and cry, “This is for the birds!”

In fact, before I became a classroom teacher, I had little respect for this profession.

As a child, I honestly could not figure out why anyone would want to be a teacher. To me, it appeared to be the most boring job on the face of the earth, no exaggeration. Sports was the only thing I could find to validate what I perceived to be a very confining, insulting, necessary evil in my childhood world.

In elementary school, I can actually remember sitting in my desk psychoanalyzing my teachers, trying to figure out what made them tick — or not tick, as I saw it. It was beyond me what motivated them. I really did think they were a whole different breed of cat.

And I could not, for the life of me, understand why any of them would feel called (or condemned) to such a repressive vocation — most teachers seemed so mean and unhappy to me. Consequently, I was passionately set against ever considering this for my life’s work.

But as we all know, things change, people change … I changed. And when everything came full circle, my friends couldn’t believe it when they heard I had moved to California and was teaching seventh grade!

That first day in the classroom hooked me, for I knew I was becoming a part of something that was huge — monumentally significant and irreversibly life-changing. One way or the other, for better or for worse, this experience would mark kids for life.

“This,” I thought, “is where children live or die. This is where their minds breathe or are suffocated.”

And literally, overnight, I fell in love with teaching and the teaching profession.

I had always believed it was better to build children than to repair adults, but now for the first time, I realized that one of the best places to do this was in the daily classroom setting. For the first time, I realized the classroom was a hallowed place and that I had a sacred work to do. I was the spark that lit the flame. I was the god of the young, one of the gods of hope who filled their souls with dreams — I was the molder of their dreams.

And so is every teacher in Wyoming. Here’s to all of you! You are truly amazing and we sincerely thank you for all you’ve done for our children.

(Brian Schroeder is the state superintendent of public instruction, having been appointed to the position in January. He previously served as the head of school at Cody’s Veritas Academy.)

Guest Column