Celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week from May 2nd-6th!
Let us rewind back to March 2020. Funny how just putting that month with that year conjures up all that has been lived especially for educators.
What breed can go from in-person learning to a virtual model almost overnight? What breed can adjust to wearing a mask every day for every hour while instructing? What breed can find creative ways to keep students six feet apart and redesign classrooms to meet all the safety protocols?
What breed can listen with the heart of a parent as kids unload all they have experienced in the last two years? What breed can balance the academic, social, emotional and physical needs of their students and still muster the energy to keep going day after day?
The answer to these questions and many others is TEACHERS.
The dedication and passion teachers have exhibited over the last two years speaks volumes. They love their kids and they love what they do. Even a pandemic cannot extinguish that passion.
The importance of expressing appreciation for teachers started with a seed planted by Mattye White Woodridge, an Arkansas schoolteacher, back in 1944. Woodridge wrote to politicians urging them to designate a day specially set aside to appreciate teachers. While her efforts did not produce fruit at that time, they did raise awareness of the need to publicly acknowledge the hard work that teachers do. Furthermore, other teachers united with Woodridge, and it is speculated that one of them reached out to First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt urging her to take up this important cause.
Eleanor Roosevelt Waters the Appreciation Seed
Consequently, about 10 years after Woodridge’s attempt to establish a day to honor teachers, Eleanor Roosevelt took on the job of standing up to Congress, hoping to convince political leaders that teachers deserved a day of recognition. In addition to Roosevelt’s history of civic duty, she served as a strong advocate for teachers. Going before the 81st Congress in 1953, Roosevelt stated:
“The teachers are, of course, among the most important people in our nation. Day in and day out they are at work preparing the future citizens of the U.S. The home and the school and the church together have a paramount influence that sets standards by which our children will live their lives.”
A love of learning was instilled in Roosevelt by her aunt Anna “Barnie” Roosevelt, who privately tutored her when she was young. Teachers play such a huge role in the lives of their students both within the classroom and beyond the walls of the school building. Never forgetting where she came from, Eleanor Roosevelt was acutely tuned into how pivotal a teacher can be for their students.
“It is in the classroom that many of our children get their best lessons in democracy, and the men or women teaching our children must remember that school experience is just a preparation for the wider experience of life and citizenship in a democracy.”
First National Teacher Day
The first National Teacher Day did not occur until March 7, 1980, even though congressional support was strong when Roosevelt pleaded her case 30 years earlier. The idea of a day to honor teachers was extended into a full week by the National Education Association (NEA) in 1984 and moved from March to May. This year teachers will be honored for their incredible work during the week of May 2-6, 2022.
Show the Love
Teaching has always been a demanding profession. It can be time-consuming, challenging and exhausting, but educators always show up. They truly love the little ones and the young people who are entrusted to their care. They find the joy even through a pandemic. What better time than this week to honor a special breed – our teachers!
Take time to shower those special teachers with tokens of appreciation. Teachers love to know they made a difference; after all, that is exactly why they went into education. Let them know through a handwritten note or sincere letter about the impact they have had in the life of your son/daughter. Those notes and letters are treasures and will be kept for years. Homemade baked goods are always a treat for teachers. Of course, Starbucks and Dunkin’ cards never go to waste and gift cards to a special restaurant are another way to express thanks.
Teachers are a special breed. They shape lives! As young as preschool and going through college, teachers inspire, influence and instruct. This special breed devotes countless hours in developing engaging lesson plans, grading material and brainstorming fun extras for students, all because they love what they do and they love their students. Let us bombard our teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week with signs of gratitude for all they have done and continue to do each and every day.