I could be wrong, but it appears to me that there is a national recognition day for just about anything. There is even a website named National Day Calendar. Last I checked, we only have 365 days on our calendar, but the folks at National Day Calendar report they track close to 1,500 days of recognition.
For example, as I am writing on Thursday, April 30, today is national Bugs Bunny Day. I guess I have been living a sheltered life. Bugs Bunny has his own day, amazing.
I didn’t check on the website to see if there is a national Mr. Grumpy Day. I’m pretty sure I could be the poster child for that special day. In case your interested in learning how to register a National Day, the website has all of the information for you.
But, there is a special national day coming up on Tuesday, May 5. That is National Teacher Day, and it is a part of Teacher Appreciation Week.
According to several reliable internet sources, leaders in education and politics started in 1944 trying to figure out a day to recognize the work of teachers. It took Eleanor Roosevelt to motivate Congress in 1953 to proclaim a National Teachers’ Day.
It took more years for Congress, the PTA, and the NEA to eventually target and coordinate the first week of May as the time for us to recognize our teachers. I don’t think any teacher would be surprised that setting aside this formal recognition took so long. Teachers know the drill. That is why in lots of communities across America, teachers remain overloaded, under appreciated, and under paid.
Quite often, I ask myself how did I ever graduate from high school? How did I ever get accepted into a college?
I was a horrible student. Sixth grade was my best year—honor roll and perfect attendance. Beyond that year, I never worked to my potential. I know I drove my parents nuts, and I am sure my teachers wondered why my parents didn’t kill me.
But, somehow, the teachers who endured me worked their magic. And, my parents, never gave up on me. They worked with me, if I needed a tutor, especially for Algebra, they found one.
My first grade teacher, Mrs. Hughes, at Elon Elementary School taught me how to read. I am so thankful. I can read.
Over the last year, I have thought a lot about Betsy Wall. She was the typing teacher at Turrentine Junior High School in Burlington, North Carolina. I have no idea how she withstood the redundancy of the instruction, but thanks to Betsy Wall, I can type.
If I’m lucky enough to make it to heaven, I’m certain many of my former teachers will be shocked to learn that I followed them into the trenches and became a teacher. Some will probably pass out when they learn that I also coached, became an assistant principal, principal, and even served on my local school board. There are times that I can’t believe my career choice either.
At some point during Teacher Appreciation Week, I encourage you to go back into your school day memory banks. Ask yourself this question, who was that teacher who really made a difference in my life?
If they are still living, figure out how to contact them or post a thanks on social media. Teachers in the past and in the present need to be thanked. That thank you is good for their souls.
Now teachers are dealing with the disruption of COVID-19. I love this quote found in the Skimm back on March 17: “Teachers deserve to make a billion dollars a year, or a week,” stated Shonda Rhimes after homeschooling her kids for a total of one hour and 11 minutes.
Teaching always has been and always will be challenging work. Makes no difference where teachers apply their instructional and classroom management skills. All schools have different layers of stress. And that stress at times, can wear a teacher out.
While I know pay commensurate with other professions is important, I think equally important to teachers is being supported, especially in challenging situations. Being supported is critical to individual and collective morale in a school building.
So, Mrs. Hughes and Mrs. Wall, and to all those teachers in between, I thank you for putting up with me.
Somehow, your determination helped me earn some essential skills. Those skills stuck to me like the paste used to create a collage in an art class. Thankfully what you taught me never left.
I think teachers are captured in this quote from Arthur Ashe: “True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others at whatever cost.”
Teachers serve others at whatever the cost.
Be sure to thank a teacher today.