Columbia, SC— It’s Teacher Appreciation Week in South Carolina and across the nation, a time set aside by the national PTA to show current and former teachers what they mean to us. What do teachers think about it?
“I think it definitely helps build morale in your school,” says Jonathan Durant, a third grade teacher in Columbia. His school, Joseph Keels Elementary in Richland District 2, gives teachers little treats throughout the week and has a special lunch for them at the end of the week. “The past couple of years, we’ve gotten coupons to Chick-Fil-A and Taco Bell and things like that,” he says. “I love to eat, so I can’t pass those opportunities up, and I’m sure some other teachers appreciate those discounts of places we enjoy going.”
He comes from a family of educators, and says the four years he’s taught have gone by quickly. If parents would like to give their teachers a gift to show their appreciation, he says gift cards are always a good idea. But he says they don’t expect gifts and that’s not why they teach. “Just seeing these kids grow and probably see them in the future as they get older, I think that that would be the biggest reward that you can get as a teacher,” he says.
While he doesn’t look for gifts, he does see some ways parents can improve their children’s education. “The biggest need is parent-teacher communication and relationships. I think that the biggest thing that we need is to be on the same page, for parents to be supportive of teachers, for parents to be involved in student education and also student discipline.”
Kasey Haskins teaches second grade at Keels. She’s next year’s “Teacher of the Year” for the school. Her mother was also a teacher, but she says that wasn’t the main thing that led her to the profession. “Everybody has that one teacher that they remember, and for me it was Miss Griffith. She took a lot more time and energy than any teacher that I had had before,” she says.
For her, Teacher Appreciation Week is a time to focus on her colleagues. “I’m not expecting people to give me anything, but I do think it’s a nice occasion to say to my friends and the people that I work with, the people that I care about, ‘Hey, I appreciate what you’re doing. You’re doing a really good job and it’s making a difference.’ And I’ve found that they, too, do the same for me. And so, without intentionally seeking it, I am getting something from Teacher Appreciation Week, because my peers are returning the same appreciation,” she says.
As for gifts from parents, she says, “I’m given a teacher appreciation gift every day, and my teacher appreciation gift is being with my kids every day. And to me that is more valuable than any material good that anybody could give me.”