Near the end of our second year of teaching at our public elementary school in the Bronx, our principal slipped a letter into each of our mailboxes thanking us for everything we had done for our school community and our students. As we each read these letters in our own classroom, we were both elated that our principal was recognizing us, telling us we were important members of the school, and asking us directly to stay for another year.
At the end of the day, our excitement turned to frustration when we shared the letters with each other and realized we had been given the exact same letter, only with different names at the top. As educators, we wanted to feel appreciated, validated, and recognized for the hard work we were doing. A form letter didn’t cut it.
Where we did find those feelings of appreciation was in the notes and words from our students and our fellow educators. We both still have boxes in our closet full of thank you notes and drawings we received from our students and we remember the kind and encouraging words of our colleagues who were rolling up their sleeves in the work alongside us. These things meant the world to us.
In addition to gestures of appreciation, though, we also wanted a meaningful voice in the policies that were impacting us and our students and our profession. We felt that, as simple as it may seem, being heard was actually the best way to truly recognize teachers.
These experiences are why at E4E we turn Teacher Appreciation Week into Teacher Appreciation Month and plan events in hundreds of schools across the country to create space for educators to celebrate each other and to advocate for the changes that will benefit students and uplift the teaching profession as a whole.
We hope you’ll check out our website (https://e4e.org/thankaneducator) where we’ll be highlighting and celebrating the voices of educators all month.
Have a wonderful Teacher Appreciation Day, and thank you for dedication and commitment to students.
Evan Stone and Sydney Morris
Co-Founders and Co-CEOs
Educators for Excellence