When I think about my years in school, I remember my teachers more than I do the classes I took or the books I read. In particular, there are a few teachers whose lessons I still carry with me today. Teachers like Ms. Scrtichfield who taught me to appreciate and analyze poetry and showed me how a good teacher can change lives. I like to think that everyone has had at least one teacher like Ms. Scrtichfield—someone who influenced not only our academic progress but whose impact extends far beyond the classroom. Someone who inspired us to think differently about the world and who set us on the path to where we are today. I’m not certain I would have had the same opportunities and career that I have now had it not been for great teachers like her.
This is Teacher Appreciation Week, a time for all of us to show our gratitude to educators who influenced our lives and for the thousands of others who continue to nurture and develop students every day. I have been humbled to see parents, current and former students, administrators, and fellow educators coming together to show their thanks for these teachers. At the foundation, we’ve highlighted 10 moving stories from teachers who shared what inspires them each day. Their selflessness and ability to motivate exemplify why teaching is not only one of the hardest professions, but one of the most rewarding as well.
This week, Education Week’s Teacher published a piece I wrote titled “Fostering Teacher Expertise: Reflections From an Educator at Gates.” It focuses on the incredible collaboration and innovation I see among teachers. The foundation often brings teachers together to share their innovative ways of engaging students and to discuss the resources they need to better network with one another in order to improve and enhance the teaching profession. Recently, I participated in a teacher convening in St. Petersburg, Fla., and was amazed at how much teachers were empowered by their peers and enjoyed learning and collaborating with their peers.
The teachers at these convenings had boundless energy for working together to help students succeed. This passion and can-do attitude reminded me why we it’s so important that we show teachers how thankful we are for all that they do, not just during Teacher Appreciation Week, but every week before and after.
Teacher Appreciation Week is a special time to pause and reflect on the educators who have made a unique imprint on our lives. But teachers and education leaders give, serve, and believe in their students each and every day. And just as I know I will be forever grateful to the special teachers in my past, I am confident that teacher collaboration and innovation will continue to influence students’ lives long after Teacher Appreciation Week comes to a close.