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“Everyone who remembers his own education remembers teachers, not methods and techniques. The teacher is the heart of the educational system.”

– Sidney Hook

By: Chelsea Davis-Bibb, M.Ed.

National Teacher Appreciation Day occurred on Tuesday May 9th. Did you tell a teacher that you appreciate him/her? Many people think that teachers have it easy because they have numerous days off during the school year, which includes the summer. However, what some people don’t realize is that teachers are actually overworked, and underpaid.

According to the National Education Association (NEA), National Teacher Day first started around the year 1944 when an Arkansas teacher Mattye Whyte Woodridge began “corresponding with political and education leaders about the need for a national day to honor teachers.” Woodridge wrote to Eleanor Roosevelt in 1953, and she then persuaded the 81st Congress to declare a National Teacher Day. However, it wasn’t until March 7th, 1980 that Congress proclaimed a National Teacher Day for that year only. Years later, the “NEA and it’s affiliates continued to observe National Teacher Day in March until 1985, when the NEA Representative Assembly voted to change the event to Tuesday of the first full week in May.”

So, I ask again, when is the last time that you told a teacher that you appreciate him/her? It isn’t easy being a teacher, and there are many things that teachers go through on a daily basis that some people wouldn’t even be able to handle. It takes a special person to be a teacher. A person who is patient, understanding, caring, dedicated, and passionate about teaching. A simple thank you goes a long way, and often times, teachers aren’t thanked enough. The teaching profession is a noble career, but it is often one that isn’t highly recognized, and sometimes not respected, as it should be. Teachers have such an important job, which is not only teaching the youth, but also preparing them for their future.

Recently, Jimmy Fallon on The Tonight Show gave a special thanks to teachers all over the world, and even thanked his teachers by name that he once had in grade school. During his show, he recognized all of the teachers in the audience, and called them to the stage, and took a selfie with them. Just a simple thank you makes all the difference. Thank you Jimmy Fallon.

There are a few reasons why teachers should be appreciated.

Teachers are underpaid – According to the NEA, the average teacher salary in 2012-2013 was $36,141. Athletes and movie stars make millions of dollars, but who taught them to be able to read their lines, or to be able to comprehend plays that their coaches assigned? It was teachers. Teachers are the ones who lay the foundation for students to go out and be successful in their desired career choice. So why are teachers still making little to nothing?

Teacher work long hours – Teachers are always at school early, and they always leave late. In addition, teachers stay after for tutorials, and in some cases, they don’t get paid for the extra time they put in. Also, teachers volunteer their time to help with school activities, which can sometimes take place during the weekends.

Teachers deal with other people’s kids – It isn’t always easy dealing with other people’s children on a day-to-day basis. Teachers have to deal with behavioral issues, and sometimes are even disrespected, often times without support from the student’s parent.

Teachers are counselors, mentors, and parents- Some children in our society go through a lot of things before they even get to their school, and sometimes, their teacher is the only true parent figure that they have. Students see their teachers more than they see their parents, and often times, teachers are there to counsel them, or even give them advice.

Teachers pay for a lot of things out of pocket- In some cases, school supplies are provided for teachers, but sometimes, depending on the school, teachers must pay for their own supplies. This can sometimes get costly especially when it comes to getting decorations for their classroom. Teachers are required to have a print rich environment, but they must pay for a lot of things they need throughout the school year on their own.

These are just a few reasons why I believe teachers should be more appreciated. As a teacher myself, I can’t begin to explain how hard our jobs can be at times. We get a lot of time off, but we need that time in order to refresh and regroup ourselves. It’s not easy, so the next time you see a teacher, be sure to tell them thank you. To all of my teachers, thank you for everything that you do. Please know that your work truly does matter. National Teacher Day has passed, but you can thank a teacher any day!

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