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Every year, the Tuesday of the first full week of May is devoted to National Teacher Day. The day is part of the larger National Teacher Appreciation Week, which this year takes place May 5-11. Here are four key things to know about National Teacher Day and National Teacher Appreciation Week.
How it all started
National Teacher Day’s roots were planted in 1944. That year, Arkansas teacher Mattye Whyte Woodridge began reaching out to legislators and prominent educational figures to advocate for a national day devoted to educators. Woodridge eventually contacted Eleanor Roosevelt, and in 1953, Roosevelt convinced Congress to proclaim a National Teacher Day.
Decades later, the National Education Association (NEA) returned to this idea. In 1980, the NEA convinced Congress to proclaim a National Teacher Day again. However, Congress only declared a National Teacher Day for that year — it did not guarantee any future for the day. The NEA nevertheless kept the tradition going, and in 1985, National Teacher Day was moved to the Tuesday of the first full week of May. This decision followed the National Parent Teacher Association’s founding of National Teacher Appreciation Week in 1984.
How people can appreciate teachers this week
For National Teacher Day, the NEA encourages both current and former students to thank their teachers on social media. The NEA offers card templates for use across social media and encourages those posting on social media to directly tag their teachers and schools, if possible.
The NEA invites people to wear red on May 8th, the day after National Teacher Day. This act, the NEA explains, shows solidarity with the many NEA members pushing for fair pay, increased school budgets, and improved teaching conditions. The NEA further encourages those who wear red to post pictures of their outfits with the hashtag #REDforED alongside the reason they’re supporting teachers.
This year’s events have brought mild controversy
In late April, the White House invited the 2019 state and national teachers of the year to a ceremony honoring them. However, two of the invited teachers fully boycotted the ceremony. These teachers claimed that their presence would tacitly support the allegedly anti-immigrant, anti-LGBTQ+ educational policies of President Donald J. Trump and the controversial education policies of his Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos.
These teachers were originally not expected to be the only people absent from the ceremony. President Trump himself was rumored to be skipping the ceremony. However, when the day arrived, the president did ultimately appear to greet this year’s award recipients. Vice President Mike Pence spoke individually with all teachers present at the event.
How teachers can reward themselves this week
Since education is the core of American life, many businesses are honoring teachers with special deals and discounts on National Teacher Day. In Houston and Phoenix, the regional Mexican food chain Überrito will give one free salad, burrito, or burrito bowl to any person who shows a valid teacher, faculty, or staff ID. Similarly, all Chipotle locations will offer buy-one-get-one deals to educational workers after 3 p.m. A full list of discounts and deals available to teachers can be found here.
If you’re a teacher, how would you like to be celebrated this week? If you’re not, how do you plan to honor your favorite teachers? Let us know in the comments!