Congratulations on embarking on the most challenging and rewarding career in the world. By choosing to be an educator, you have made a commitment to learning for your students and yourself. A love of learning is at the core of why we became teachers. We care about the students and the future that they must be prepared to meet and we are fully prepared to do what is needed to help them succeed.

When students talk about their favorite teachers and why they consider them excellent, it is usually because those teachers made a difference in the students' lives. The students' comments usually include statements such as: "He listened to me."; "She let me be myself"; or " They cared about me and my problems". The underlying theme beyond students' words is that they want teachers who see them as individuals as worthy of respect, as an important human being with something to contribute.

As you begin your career, remember that you make a difference in the lives of the students you teach. Not every child will respond. Not every student will remember you. The visible rewards won't come every day. But you will change the life and the learning of every one of your students in some way. As Christa McAuliffe reminded us so eloquently, as teachers we do truly touch the future.

Like others before you, we are sure you became a teacher to make a difference. You can make a difference both in the classroom and in public education. If there is to be a strong future for public education, we must do our part to make it successful. The Georgia Association of Educators is dedicated to helping make schools the best they can be.

As you begin your teaching career, we at GAE and NEA wish for you success and fulfillment in your career. Just as you are an integral part of your students' lives, the GAE wants to be a part of your professional life. GAE members at your school will provide you with invaluable support and assistance during your first year and throughout your teaching career. As a member of the unified team of your local association, the GAE, and the National Education Association, you will be part of 2.3 million members nationwide speaking out in behalf of education.

You also have the support system of the strongest professional association behind you as you enter that classroom. We know that everything will not always be perfect and problems may arise. That is why you need NEA, GAE, and your local association standing behind you.

Thanks for caring about the future and for dedicating your career to helping create fulfilling lives for the students you teach. NOW YOU'RE READY!

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