Education is improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it.
— Marian Wright Edelman, founder and president emerita of Children’s Defense Fund
Teacher Appreciation Week was held May 4-8. During this time, students, parents, administrations, school boards and community members across the country thanked teachers for all they do. Especially now during the COVID-19 pandemic, we may have been even more impelled to express our gratitude.
“It’s in these challenging times that we truly recognize and appreciate how our nation’s educators play such a pivotal role in our children’s lives — inspiring a lifelong love of learning and discovery and making a difference in their well-being and long-term success,” the National Parent Teacher Association writes on its website, pta.org, in the article titled “Teacher Appreciation Week.” “Teachers change the lives of millions of children every day. Their immense work and impact move us beyond words. With the abrupt end of the physical school year, our teachers have done even more to continue education with virtual classrooms and learning-at-home lessons — all to ensure every student has the tools they need to reach their full potential.”
With the support from former First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt, a campaign started by Arkansas teacher Mattye Whyte Woodridge was on its way to becoming reality.
“Roosevelt prevailed upon the 81st Congress to proclaim a National Teacher Day,” University of the Cumberlands writes in its educational blog article “Celebrating the history of Teacher Appreciation Week.”
Years later, Congress acknowledged March 7, 1980, as National Teacher Day, thanks to the work of the National Education Association and its partners. National Teacher Day continued to be observed on the first Tuesday in March until 1985. The National PTA then set Teacher Appreciation Week as the first full week in May, with the NEA establishing the Tuesday of the designated week as National Teacher Day.
Within Whitehall-Coplay School District, Zephyr Elementary School Principal Terri Miller hand-painted and hung up banners, taking two days to complete, May 2 and 3, at every teacher’s home to show her appreciation. Reportedly, more than 300 miles were logged on her car to complete the task. Miller had help with the delivery, but she did all the painting herself. Knowing she is not good with making videos, Miller said, she wanted to make something the old-fashioned, homemade way. Miller also said the teachers are working hard to educate students from their homes, and they deserved a thank-you message.
My 3-year-old son, Benjamin, is enrolled at a learning center in Catasauqua Borough. One of the things most difficult for him is not being able to go to school to see his teachers and friends in person.
Thankfully, his school is adjusting well to this new temporary normal. The school has provided a variety of materials for learning at home every week. Teachers from different classrooms submit videos of themselves reading books. A couple of teachers sent out clips of tadpoles turning into frogs and caterpillars turning into butterflies in enclosures at their own homes.
The most sentimental thing occurred May 2 when Benjamin’s distance-learning teacher visited us — from 6 feet, of course — and gave him a bag full of supplies for making crafts during Zoom classes. Benjamin was so excited to see her and, after she left, told me and my husband, “I wish I could see her all day.”
Needless to say, our family is very appreciative of Benjamin’s teachers, principal and assistant principal.
I come from a family of educators. One of my aunts is a retired elementary teacher. I have another aunt who is an elementary librarian. One of my cousins is an elementary music teacher. I also have an uncle who is a political-science professor. Each of them struggles at times with the new ways of teaching and hopes to be able to return to a classroom of students soon. I know how hard they work and how much their students mean to them.
I am thankful we have such wonderful teachers here in the Lehigh Valley.
Thank you, teachers, for all you have done and all you are continuing to do.