The Meramec Valley R-III School District Teacher of the Year used a friend’s description of her as a porch light to illustrate the role that teachers play in the lives of their students.

Sarah Grodie, Zitzman Elementary kindergarten teacher, took to the Pacific High School auditorium stage at the May 16 school board meeting to accept the honor of being named the 2018-19 teacher of the year for the district.

Grodie said when she was asked to talk about what being a teacher meant to her she turned to a close friend, she wasn’t sure what to say.

“You do know what to say,” her friend said. “You’re a porch light.”

A porch light seemed like a puzzling metaphor for a teacher.

“Not at all,” her friend said. “The porch light is there is to help people find their way and that’s what you do for your students.”

Grodie adopted the idea and asked other educators and staffers to join her in serving as porch lights offering a ray of light for all students.

Being named teacher of the year is a humbling experience, she said, because it reminds you of all the people who deserve part of the credit.

Grodie said she works with 10 fellow educators who gave her support and guidance.

“I’m thankful for the honor,” she said, “but any of these people could be teacher of the year.”

In the end, Grodie said she wanted the audience to meet the people most responsible for the perceived success she had as a teacher.

She asked her graduating kindergarten class to join her on the stage where each one was introduced and asked what they hoped to do when they grow up. Of the 13 kindergartners, four wanted to be teachers. One wanted to change the world.