Our View | Thanking our teachers is the least we can do

Published 1:21 pm Wednesday, May 9, 2018

In a time when teachers are fighting all over the U.S. for better educational resources, more funding, appropriate compensation, and in Kentucky, their pensions, it only seems right to take a moment to acknowledge all teachers contribute to our society.

And, it is most fitting to do so today, which is National Teacher Day. Observed on the Tuesday of each first full week in May, National Teacher Day is part of National Teacher Appreciate Week, and is a day to honor teachers and recognize the lasting contributions they make in our lives.

Political and educational leaders began discussions for a day to honor teachers in 1944. In 1953, Eleanor Roosevelt persuaded the 81st Congress to proclaim National Teachers’ Day. Congress declared March 7, 1980, as National Teacher Day. The National Education Association continued to observe Teacher Day on the first Tuesday in March until 1985 when the National PTA established Teacher Appreciation Week as the first full week of May. The NEA Representative Assembly then voted to make the Tuesday of that week National Teacher Day.

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Even though discussions began more than 70 years ago, the value of teachers and the need to show appreciation still remains. In fact, in today’s political climate, when many in the profession feel unappreciated and may even be considering other career opportunities, the importance of recognizing all that teachers offer us is even more important.

According to the National Education Association, “Teachers play a critical role in education and shipping our children: the future leaders of our country. They are kind, patient, hard-working, dedicated and understanding professionals who mold our children’s lives in a positive direction. We entrust our children with the teachers, and they affect their lives on a daily basis.”

While their primary objective is education, teachers play many roles in the classroom.

They serve as counselors, part-time parental figures, career counselors and more.

As they teach our children, they also look out for their well-being and best interests.

Many times, teachers make sure their students are fed, well-rested, clothed and safe. They are tasked with watching for warning signs of mental health concerns, learning challenges, abuse, neglect, illnesses and more.

Unless we work directly with teachers, it might be difficult to fully understand the scope of their expectations and what they do to go above and beyond the responsibilities of their jobs.

Talk to any teacher and they will likely tell you they chose their profession for the love of children, learning and playing an active role in raising the next generation of leaders, educators, professionals and legislators.

Take time this week to make sure the teachers in your life, past and present, know the impact they had on you. Tell them ‘thank you’ and show your appreciation.

It is the least we can do.