Teachers spend a lot of time enriching the minds and lives of their students. That’s why, every year, we come together to celebrate teachers and the wonderful jobs that they do. The celebration starts on the first full Monday in May. But what’s the history of Teacher Appreciation Week? When and why did it start?
The Origin of Teacher Appreciation Week
The official history of Teacher Appreciation Week dates back to 1953 when First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt persuaded Congress that there needed to be a specific day to recognize teachers. Prior to her involvement, it’s believed that some states did practice some kind of annual teacher celebration. However, that part of the history is unclear and unsubstantiated. It’s believed that a teacher from either Wisconsin or Arkansas wrote letters to the First Lady to get help establishing a day of recognition.
The Arkansas theory states that Mattye Whytte Wooldridge communicated with education leaders to form a day to honor teachers. She then began writing letters to Eleanor Roosevelt. Roosevelt decided the cause was worthy of her attention and took it to Congress.
Even with Eleanor Roosevelt taking the case to Congress and getting their help and support, it would take another 27 years to become an official national day. It was in 1980 when the National Education Association (NEA) joined with the Kansas and Indiana State Boards of Education and began to lobby Congress to have the day nationally recognized.
The First National Teacher Appreciation Day
National Teacher Day was celebrated on March 7th until 1984, when it was moved to May. Behind the move was the National Parent Teacher Association, which expanded the celebration by naming the entire first week of May as Teacher Appreciation Week. The NEA followed suit the next year and held National Teacher Appreciation Day on the Tuesday of that week.
There are still a few cases of oddities, though. Massachusetts celebrates Teacher’s Day on the first Sunday of June, perhaps to allow teachers to relax on their special day.
Celebrate Teachers in Your Classroom
The NEA believes National Teacher Day is a day to not only honor teachers but to show them that they make lasting impressions on the lives of their students.
Whether you send a small gift or a kind word, let the teachers in your life know that they’re appreciated. If you’re looking for ways to showcase your appreciation, follow the link below for some fun ideas!