'We must recognize the dedication of our nation's teachers': President Obama declares National Teacher Appreciation Week

3rd May 2016 at 20:01
The history of Teacher Appreciation Day and Week are a little murky but it's clear they were created to honor teachers and support educators in shaping leaders of tomorrow

President Barack Obama officially declared this National Teacher Appreciation Week highlighted by National Teacher Appreciation day on Tuesday, May 3. It's an unofficial national holiday but one that gives students, parents  and communities a real way to focus and reflect on teachers.

"I call upon students, parents, and all Americans to recognize the hard work and dedication of our nation's teachers and to observe this day and this week by supporting teachers through appropriate activities, events, and programs," President Obama declared. 

In honor of the week which runs from May 1 through May 7, here are some facts and figures:

  • There were 3.1 million full-time teachers employed in public schools in fall 2015 with an additional 0.4 million in private school, according to the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). 
  • Sheer numbers make teachers one of the largest unionized professions in the country
  • There is a national push mandated by the President to prepare 100,000 STEM public school teachers by 2021.
  • Apples were given to teachers on the frontier as a form of communal payment since families were expected to help shelter and feed teachers, at least according to the Smithsonian.
  • The first National Teacher Day was proclaimed by Congress at Eleanor Roosevelt's behest in 1953 for that year only and in 1985 the National Education Association voted to recognize a full week at the beginning of May. 

The President used the week as an opportunity to highlight education initiatives such as the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA), which instituted higher standards for students to better prepare them for college.

Many classrooms across the country will celebrate with art activities, essays and small gifts from students to teachers.

Some businesses are using the day as an opportunity to invigorate sales. Chipotle is probably the most famous example and is having a "buy one, get one free" deal on May 3 for teachers with valid school ID.

Regardless of how they're celebrated, these unofficial holidays are ways to show teachers they are acknowledged and supported by society.

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