Each May, communities around the country take time to let teachers and school staff know just how much they are appreciated for all they do. Through pictures, gift cards, notes, sweets, students of all ages, along with their families, offer kind gestures of appreciation to those working in our schools.
This year, Teacher Appreciation Week comes with strict social-distancing guidelines. Guests are not allowed on campus. Masks are worn all the time. Food can only be distributed if it is in a pre-packaged wrapper. Hugs are off-limits.
So, how do we say thank you?
How do we say thank you to our teachers who taught at least three different versions of every class all year long?
How do we say thank you for reinventing every class’s curriculum during summer vacation to deliver exceptional virtual and cohort-based experiences?
How do we thank our staff who showed up, masked and distant, every day since last July, reimagining their entire department’s goals and workflows?
How do we thank our employees who found ways to foster community and preserve social and emotional health, creatively and virtually connecting with our students despite social distancing?
How do we thank our coaches for advocating for maintaining athletics all year long for the mental wellness of our students?
How do we thank those that have kept our community safe and healthy, revamping daily procedures and implementing COVID protocols—advanced cleaning, new dining routines, building upfits, and campus maintenance–all while keeping campus beautiful and at the ready for learning?
How do we appreciate our employees who put CA and its students first, even when living with at-risk family members?
How do we appreciate our entire community for supporting our students and each other through a year of heightened fear, racism, bigotry, political strife, and repeated trauma in our broader world?
How do we value our employees, all 152 of them, who pledged their support to CA with a gift to the CA Fund this year?
Above all, how do we say thank you for helping us come through this trying year together, united, and perhaps even stronger?
Well, quite simply: by doing just that. Saying thank you.
Our employees have reinvented many wheels this year. Through screens, outdoor gatherings (even in the cold and the rain), and the occasional elbow bumps, they have connected meaningfully with students and with each other. Together, they have delivered a CA experience that, while appearing quite different, was nonetheless exceptional and true to our mission. And they have done it all because of their love for this community. For their belief in our mission. For our students and their families.
What they–what we– miss most and need most, is to see you and hear you. Our families offer meaning behind the screens and the masks. You and your students make this meaningful work worth it.
You may have seen emails from the Development Office this week. Laura Schoedler, our new CA Fund Director, joined us in March and is spearheading these appreciative efforts. We humbly ask that you join us. Help us present our employees with a show of community support next week.
During this Teacher Appreciation Week, I encourage you to take a moment to share a message of thanks (you can submit them here). We will compile messages received this week—please get them to us no later than noon on Friday (tomorrow!)—into a video that will be shared with our employees next week. We hope you will add your voice and let our employees know how much you care and how much you have appreciated their efforts this year. At the end of the day, your voice and your message are the greatest appreciation of all.