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Monthly Spotlight

May 2022

This month we look at Buddha Purnima and National Teacher's Appreciation Day


Buddha Purnima

Buddha Purnima (also known as Buddha Jayanti) celebrates the birth of Prince Siddharta Gautama — a Nepali prince (circa 563-483 B.C.) who later went on to become known as the Buddha, the founder of Buddhism. This year, it is celebrated on May 16.  Buddha’s birth is celebrated as part of a festival called ‘Vesak,’ which combines the three key events of his life — his birth, enlightenment, and death.

The Prince grew up isolated from the world, with all of his needs provided for.  When he first saw people suffering, he wondered what the purpose of life was.  After many attempts at understanding, he was enlightened with the 4 Noble Truths, which are statements about life and how to become free from pain and suffering.  These truths are supported by the Eightfold Path, which are actions that lead to enlightenment and freedom from suffering; Right Understanding, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration.  These 8 actions are separated into 3 themes; good moral conduct (Understanding, Thought, Speech); meditation and mental development (Action, Livelihood, Effort), and wisdom or insight (Mindfulness and Concentration).

Buddhism’s popularity is due to many things, including the teachings of non-violence, respect for life, and supporting equality for women.

Since there are variations on the practice of Buddhism throughout the world, Buddha Purnima is also celebrated in a variety of ways.  Candles and incense are burned and flowers are brought to Buddhist temples.  The burning down of the candles and incense and the withering of the flowers reminds us of the frailty of life.  Buddhists typically eat simply during this time period and donations are made to the poor and needy.  Birds are often released from cages to show compassion for all living things.

On this day, wish someone a Happy Buddha Purnima!

National Teacher's Appreciation Day

Tuesday May 3rd, 2022 was National Teacher’s Appreciation Day.  It is the highlight of a week of celebrating our teachers.  Many of us can remember special teachers who positively impacted our lives.  For some of us, we remember how they taught us a subject that became a passion in our lives.  For others, we remember their encouragement and support when we struggled with our studies or with life itself.  Teachers impact what we learn, how we learn, and how we relate to the world and each other.  They give so much of themselves, time and energy, and sometimes money, because of their love for teaching and for their students.  They see hope in our future.
As with many things in our society, the quality of one’s education and access to good teachers is impacted by race and economic class.  The failed attempts at desegregating schools and public-school funding models used by most states, has perpetuated a separate and unequal education system in our country.
There are many ideas on how we can begin to address our education inequities.  Some examples are:

  • Eliminate the use of the property tax as the primary funding source for public education.  Create state-wide funding sources to address local inequities.
  • Support teachers financially, particularly those who choose to work in schools in lower income communities.
  • Invest more in support resources in underfunded schools such as, increased special education specialists and counselors.
  • Create programs to incentivize people of color to become teachers.  Teachers who look like the communities that they serve will be role models for their students and will help break them out of the “stuck” socioeconomic class cycle.

If you have friends or family who are educators, please take a moment to thank them for their love, hard work and dedication.  Or reach out to someone who taught you in the past and let them know how they impacted your life.