“It’s impossible to measure the impact of a great teacher. The curiosity they ignite will become the mathematical theorems, medical breakthroughs, and beautiful art that make the world a better place,” Google says. “Today’s homepage by artist Nate Swinehart honors the invaluable civil servants all across the United States who’ve dedicated their lives to molding a thoughtful, compassionate generation of citizens. And to making sure everyone does their homework.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Teachers’ Day Is Celebrated During Teacher Appreciation Week
National Teachers’ Day is celebrated in the United States on the Tuesday of Teacher Appreciation Week.
President Barack Obama said in his proclamation declaring Teacher Appreciation Week:
Our future is written in schools across our country. It is likely that the first person who will go to Mars is in a classroom today. Our students are our future teachers, scientists, politicians, public servants, and parents — a generation that will steer the course we will take as a people and make possible things we have not even imagined yet. We look to the women and men standing in front of classrooms in all corners of our country — from cities to reservations to rural towns — to vest America’s daughters and sons with the hard skills they will need to put their dreams within reach and to inspire them to dream even bigger. On National Teacher Appreciation Day and during National Teacher Appreciation Week, let us ensure our educators know how much we value their service in the classroom, how much we appreciate all they do for our students and families, and how thankful we are for their contributions to our national progress.
The White House also used this year’s National Teacher Appreciation Day to announce progress toward Obama’s goal of preparing an addition 100,000 science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) teachers for classrooms by 2021.
2. The NEA Says the History of Teachers’ Day Is ‘Murky’
The history of National Teachers’ Day is not entirely clear, according to the National Education Association:
The origins of National Teacher Day are murky. Around 1944 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, who in 1953 persuaded the 81st Congress to proclaim a National Teacher Day.
NEA, along with its Kansas and Indiana state affiliates and the Dodge City (Kan.) Local, lobbied Congress to create a national day to celebrate teachers. Congress declared March 7, 1980 as National Teacher Day for that year only.
National Teacher Day was observed in March until 1985, when the NEA’s Representative Assembly voted to move it to the Tuesday of the first full week of May.
Days in honor of teachers are observed around the world throughout the year.
3. A Connecticut Teacher Was Recently Recognized as the 2016 National Teacher of the Year
The 2016 National Teacher of the Year was named just before Teachers’ Day. This year, Jahana Hayes, a social studies teacher at John F. Kennedy High School in Waterbury, Connecticut, was given the honor.
“I am honored to be the 2016 National Teacher of the Year,” Hayes said in a press release from the Council of Chief State School Officers. “In the course of the next year, I hope to stoke a national conversation about education that is inclusive of everyone. I want to engage people who have not traditionally been part of the conversation to join in this important effort to prepare well-rounded students for success in life.”
As a country, we need to ensure that the quality of a child’s education is not dependent on the neighborhood where he or she grew up. For me, that’s personal. I grew up in the projects, surrounded by poverty, drugs and violence. At the age of 17, I became a mom. Growing up, education was never seen as a pathway to success in my family, yet my teachers believed in me. Some of them even let me borrow books to read at home. They challenged me to imagine myself in a different set of circumstances, no matter how difficult. They encouraged me to do more, be more, expect more, and become the first in my family to go to college. They inspired me to become a teacher so I could make the same kind of impact in my own students’ lives — a teacher whose influence extends beyond the classroom.
Hayes has taught for 12 years, including 10 at Kennedy High School.
4. #ThankaTeacher Is Being Used on Social Media to Honor Educators
Thousands of social media users are honoring their teachers using #ThankaTeacher on Twitter and Facebook.
GoFundMe is celebrating Teachers’ Day by offering $100 to any campaign started to help a teacher:
If you start a campaign to benefit a teacher or a classroom this week, GoFundMe will chip in a $100 donation* to help you build momentum.
Maybe you’re a teacher, dipping into your own pocket to buy school supplies. Maybe you’re a student or a parent of a student whose life has been touched by an inspirational teacher.
No matter who you are, you can have a huge impact with a GoFundMe campaign. Use #ThankATeacher in your campaign description to qualify, and make giving contagious.
Campaigns can be started through May 8, 2016.
5. There Are 3.1 Million Public School Teachers in the United States
There are about 3.1 million public school teachers employed in the United States for the 2015-2016 school year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
Hundreds of thousands of other teachers are working in private schools around the country.
According to the NCES statistics, the number of teachers hired by public schools has been decreasing since 2009. But it is projected that new hires will begin to trend upwards again and continue to rise over the next several years.