It’s Teacher Appreciation Week, and students, parents, and administrators all across America are stepping up to honor the people who devote their careers to enriching minds and shaping lives.
Educators from Maine to Alaska walked into their schools to find their desks, doors, and hallways covered with messages of love, support, and thanks.
The tributes were about as lovely — and creative — as you’d expect.
Some teachers were showered with gifts.
Others were showered with … nachos.
Some students upped their fruit game.
And others upped their decoration game … like these fourth-graders in Wisconsin.
Kids at a Las Vegas school honored their teachers with a dance routine:
A North Carolina school created a Walk of Fame for its star educators.
“I felt super special,” says Emily Francis, an ESL teacher. “Reading every teacher’s names made me feel part of a team making a difference and changing lives.”
Students from a Missouri elementary school went classic and delivered flowers to their teachers.
“A parent stood at the door and gave each kid a flower as they walked in, after they had already delivered an empty ‘vase’ (popcorn bucket) to each of us before the day started,” says Jen Bearden, a first-grade teacher at the school. “I was then greeted with 21 smiles and thank-yous to begin my week.”
And a Baltimore-area school won the day by treating its teachers to the greatest gift of all: free pizza.
Meanwhile, hundreds of adults posted on Twitter to pay tribute to the educators who shaped their lives:
Americans clearly appreciate their teachers — but as a country, we sometimes have a funny way of showing it.
A 2016 study published by the Economic Policy Institute found that public school teachers earn 17% less than other college-educated professionals on average.
Teacher salaries have actually decreased since the mid-’90s, when adjusted for inflation, despite them working 10+ hour days, in many cases.
Truly acknowledging our teachers’ centrality in shaping our lives and the lives of our children should mean paying them what they’re worth and helping them do their jobs effectively.
That means supporting teachers’ right to a strong union and supporting their efforts to negotiate higher salaries. It can also mean donating classroom supplies, which many teachers have to provide themselves, or volunteering in your local school.
For next Teacher Appreciation Week, it’s on us to help give America’s educators the best gifts of all: support in the classroom, adequate time off, and a fair wage.
Though … I’m sure they’d appreciate the free pizza again too.