Why Teachers Deserve Our Praise Every Day

This week is Teacher Appreciation Week. It is a time to recognize and celebrate those teachers in our lives who go the extra mile. It means so much to parents when educators take special interest in their children's success and give the time and attention necessary to see them reach and surpass their goals. We know that it is not always an easy feat, but it is definitely necessary. This week, and every day of the year, we thank teachers for all of their hard work. Without them, the academic success of our youth would not be possible.

As National PTA president, I have used this week to think and reflect on teachers who have made a difference in my life. One in particular that immediately comes to mind was my 11th grade advanced placement European history teacher, Mr. Ed Thiel. He indeed was one of the teachers that had a profound impact on my educational experience. His passion for teaching and skillful manner in educating our young minds impacted generations of young men and women. His methods transcended the boundaries of our small town and helped us to see our large world. He was an encourager and sought the best in every student.

Even to this day, I can hear his voice after I attempted to answer one of his thought-provoking questions. "So, Mr. Thornton, why is that so?" he would ask. "Do you accept that fact as the truth in history, or is it someone else's version of the truth?" he would follow. His Socratic and philosophical approach to teaching influenced generations of students to dig deeper and think broader on history and the impact that it had on our world.

Mr. Thiel made a very powerful impact on my life. He would spend the first 10-15 minutes of each class discussing current events, which I used during my tenure as an assistant professor years later at Michigan Technological University. His approach of challenging our young minds and questioning everything that we were ever taught helped us eager learners foster critica- thinking skills. This gift of cultivating minds to think critically and look at history from different perspectives was priceless in our education.

Every day in schools across the country, teachers like Mr. Thiel touch the lives of children, and their work and impact extends far beyond the boundaries of the classroom. It is important that we celebrate, honor and support teachers during Teacher Appreciation Week and all year round. I encourage everyone to reflect on and recognize the teachers who have made a difference in their lives as well as the lives of their children. Following are some ideas on how you can celebrate the teachers in your life:

  • Write heartfelt letters and cards;
  • Create art work, poems and video messages;
  • Volunteer in classrooms;
  • Recognize teachers with awards, and
  • Use #ThankATeacher to share your appreciation.

So this week, I salute Mr. Ed Thiel for his impact and exceptional example in the teaching profession along with the countless other teachers around the world who have made it their mission to educate our children.