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Saturday, September 20, 2014 |  Madison, WI: 65.0° F  Overcast
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Thank a teacher

We, as a society, generally underestimate the service done for us by our children's teachers. Even those with kids in school often don't appreciate how much influence those teachers wield over the trajectory of their students' lives, both in the classroom and out. Our cover story this week by Isthmus contributor and high school parent David Tenenbaum reminds us of this with a profile of one influential teacher.

In "Drama King," Tenenbaum introduces us to Tom Hardin, coach of the Drama, Debate and Forensics Club of Memorial High School. His students and fellow teachers point to the life lessons he teaches while supervising the activities of his motivated charges as the reasons to admire him. I wouldn't disagree.

I witnessed the effects of dedicated teachers and a supportive school structure myself over the weekend. Surviving the twin scourges of construction and congestion on a trip down I-90 to Chicago, I attended the Alexander Graham Bell Elementary School production of Fiddler on the Roof featuring Francesca O'Hern among the leads. Before an audience of a few hundred parents, relatives, and friends of parents and relatives, about 80 fourth- to eighth-graders composed the cast, crew, chorus and band of the musical, aided and abetted by a corps of teachers and staff.

The audience was as invested in the performance as the kids, and there was a great familial feeling in the auditorium that night. The kids did a great job acting, singing, changing sets, doing the lighting, playing the music and a hundred more little jobs that go into staging a play. Their educational experience was greatly amplified by the opportunity to be passionate about something and work hard at it. It was a lesson taught by teachers outside the classroom.

Hardin isn't the only dedicated teacher helping Madison kids, but he'll do as an example. And we shouldn't forget the kids we meet in Tenenbaum's article. Their energy and enthusiasm are what motivate the teachers to work those extra hours and weekends.

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