“I am firm in my belief that a teacher lives on and on through his students. Good teaching is forever and the teacher is immortal.”

The late Jesse Stuart was being prophetic when he proudly wrote and often spoke those inspiring words many years ago.

To his credit, he practiced what he preached as a champion of education throughout his life, as a beloved teacher, respected school administrator, successful author and world-traveling professor.

The man of letters from W-Hollow also was an articulate activist who railed against political interference in the public schools and inadequate funding.

Thousands of posters with those words about teachers have been displayed in American classrooms because most teachers, in my opinion, were and are proud of the influence they have on generations of students.

Many Kentucky teachers are carrying different kinds of posters in the last year in their protests in Frankfort and elsewhere about efforts to reduce their retirement benefits.

Understandably, some have reacted strongly to the stinging criticism of teachers by Gov. Matt Bevin who doesn’t like anyone to disagree with him.

We will see and hear much more about teachers and their value to Kentucky in this year’s governor’s election.

State Rep. Rocky Adkins, a former teacher and the son of teachers, says public education is at the top of his list of priorities.

Another candidate, State Attorney General Andy Beshear, made friends with teachers by virtue of his successful legal challenge of last year’s pension bill.

We all know of teachers who, despite relatively low pay, have used their own time and money to help their students with school supplies, food and other necessities.

Teachers have protected their students, some at the cost of their own lives or serious injury, in school shootings, fires, tornadoes and other dangerous events.

Teachers need and deserve our respect and our support of efforts to protect their retirement and for better pay and other benefits.

The late Fred Rogers of “Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood,” perhaps said it best with:

“Anyone who does anything to help a child in his life is a hero to me."

(Keith Kappes can be reached at keithkappes@gmail.com or by phone at 356-0912)