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WHAT WORKS IN EDUCATION The George Lucas Educational Foundation
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Thank You, from Executive Director Milton Chen

As Thanksgiving approaches, I just wanted to say thank you -- it's something educators just don't hear often enough.

The tragic fact is that one out of three new teachers will leave the profession within the first five years because they feel isolated and lack support. And many others who continue their dedication to the profession are underappreciated, underpaid, and under a lot of undeserved pressure.

Back in 1992, George Lucas stood on a worldwide stage at the Oscars and received the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award for lifetime achievement. It sits in a glass case near our offices at Skywalker Ranch. When I point out the award to visiting educators, they often recall that moment onstage when he thanked his teachers (which, by the way, Oscar winners rarely do) by saying,

"I'd especially like to thank a group of devoted individuals who, apart from my parents, have done the most to shape my life -- my teachers. From kindergarten through college, their struggle -- and it was a struggle -- to help me grow and learn was not in vain. And it is greatly appreciated.

I've always tried to be aware of what I say in my films, because all of us who make motion pictures are teachers, teachers with very loud voices. But we will never match the power of the teacher who is able to whisper in a student's ear."

This Thanksgiving, let's start a campaign to thank our teachers for providing an important form of national service. Expressing appreciation to teachers doesn't cost anything. But it's a renewable resource that can fuel the success of our teachers, and their students.

After you do, add your story in the comments below, or post it on Facebook or tweet about it with #thankateacher so they can read your message.

And if you're new to Edutopia, I hope you'll consider signing up for our weekly e-newsletter, or a free trial issue of our award-winning magazine, Edutopia. You can also download a PDF of our Ten Top Tips for Teaching with New Media to take advantage of resources from Edutopia that will help you change education from the inside out.


-- Milton Chen, Executive Director

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