After the dark and cold months of winter, we appreciate the sunnier and warmer days of spring. After the windy wet days of March and April, we appreciate the flowers of May. It is often difficult to see what is on the other side of a trying moment but, once on that side, things become much clearer when reflecting upon why we had to endure the prior challenging period.
Recently, we celebrated and honored the mothers of America on Mother’s Day. We thanked them and all women who have taken a role in molding and shaping us into the people we have become. Each day as parents send their children off to school with a kiss or a hug, they are sharing their children with the teachers and staff to help raise them. Teachers and staff educate children and expose them to new worlds and knowledge. This is a solemn responsibility that educators do not take lightly. This is not, however, a solemn profession. It is, actually, filled with joy. The joy one feels when winter turns to spring, or rain results in the flowers of May.
Three years ago, when education went virtual, there was a renewed appreciation for teachers and the education system. Faculty and staff went into scramble mode to deliver a quality education with only a weekend’s notice. Teachers were on the front lines and recognized as heroes for helping students learn through such a difficult time. Many emails of thanks and appreciation were shared with teachers during those months.
Each year, in appreciation of all that the faculty and staff do for our children, the nation honors educators during Teacher Appreciation Week. Parents, students, and alumni told stories of how a teacher or staff member made a difference in their life. Thank you notes shared the incredible impact teachers had on children. Tokens of appreciation were given as something to hold on to for the other 364 days of the year. And, of course, food was shared as part of the celebrations.
Although there were earlier and local versions of teacher appreciation days, it was not until 1984 that National Teacher Appreciation Week was recognized. In 1965, President Lyndon Johnson signed a bill, alongside his former teacher who taught eight grades in a one-room schoolhouse, to allocate federal funds to schools across the nation. He himself was a high school teacher prior to entering into politics and this experience along with the influence of his teacher had a profound impact upon how he looked at life and education.
The other day, I attended a Leadership Awards Ceremony and sat with a family that helps build schools in Pakistan for all children. Although the Pakistani government supports schools throughout the country to some degree, there was an obvious need to do more. This international organization raises funds to help children who would otherwise not receive an education.
One of the key foundations to America’s greatness is its public schools. Allowing students access to a free and public education sets America apart from many other countries and gives all children the opportunity to succeed.
The success of this education system is seen during the months of May and June. The schools recognize student achievements of the past year, inductions into the honor societies are conducted with reverence, concerts showcase the results of many hours of practice, playoffs highlight the best teams on the athletic fields, and promotion and graduation ceremonies indicate the children completed the requirements asked of them and are ready to move on to the next level of life.
Educators enter into the profession to serve others. They teach children to become the best versions of themselves. These are the same values and virtues of being a parent.
Seasons, ceremonies, holidays, and recognition days are on the calendar for us to slow down, take a breath, and remember what it was all for. Appreciation – taking a moment to recognize all the sacrifices made by ourselves and others – is both a great gift and an essential gesture that can be bestowed upon ourselves and others every day of the year.