American Education Week honors incredible work

American Education Week Nov. 15-19 will celebrate public education and honor the individuals working to ensure that every student receives a quality education.

The week was first celebrated in 1921, with the National Education Association and the American Legion as the cosponsors.

Each day of the week has its own theme, during which we celebrate our public school community.

Festivities honor the team of people who work in our nation’s public schools, everyone from the bus drivers and classroom teachers to the cafeteria workers and administrative staff, plus countless others. Schools are invited to celebrate and thank their staff in fun ways throughout the week. Here are a few ideas:

Monday, Nov. 15: Kickoff Day

  • Familiarize students with American Education Week in the morning announcements.
  • Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper, thanking public school educators for their service or thanking the community for its support of public schools. You can also encourage the local paper to write an editorial about public schools and American Education Week.
  • Have students write an essay, “What I Would Do if I Were the School Principal” and share the best ones.
  • Have students make cards showing support for their educators.

Tuesday, Nov. 16: Family Day

  • On this day, schools across the nation invite parents into the classroom to experience what the day is like for their child.
  • Invite parents virtually into your classroom via video conference to read to students, talk about their career or share other educational information outside the normal curriculum. If the parent is tech-savvy, have them record a video you can show.
  • According to experts, parents need to take an active and assertive role in their children's education on a daily basis for optimal success at school. Ongoing research shows that parental involvement in schools improves student achievement, reduces absenteeism and restores confidence among parents in their children's education.
  • Parental involvement means reading to your children, checking homework every night, limiting television viewing or screen time on school nights, developing a relationship with your child's teacher and simply asking children about their school day.

Wednesday, Nov. 17: Education Support Professionals Day

  • This year we have seen ESPs go well beyond anything we have seen before as they work to meet the needs of our school communities in the midst of a pandemic. On ESP Day, join us to honor and advocate for the ESPs who continue keeping students safe, healthy, and ready to learn.
  • Host a virtual appreciation event for ESPs in your school or district using a video conferencing platform. Share photos (or screenshots) of the event on social media.
  • Arrange a safe food or gift delivery for ESPs in your school or district.
  • Encourage teachers, students and parents to mail or email a thank you letter to ESPs in their schools.
  • Give a social media shout out to ESPs who have been going above and beyond to help school communities during this pandemic. You can get creative through photos, videos, and more! Use #WeLoveOurESPs in your posts.

Thursday, Nov. 18: Educator for a Day

  • Community leaders are invited to experience the day as educators – including the challenges of teaching and the needs of students – with the guidance of school employees.
  • Where possible with COVID-19 precautions in place, the visiting educators perform all the duties of a regular school employee in a normal work day: teaching class, lunch and hall duty, recess supervision, working in the cafeteria and more.
  • The program, originally developed by the Massachusetts Teachers Association, enhances understanding among educators and community leaders. In addition, it demonstrates to public officials and other decisionmakers, the successes and challenges our educators face and underscores the need for adequate staffing, materials and facilities for students.
  • You might also invite members of the community virtually into your classroom via video call to read to students or talk about their career.
  • Ask students to dress as if they were in their future career and talk about that profession’s role in the community.

Friday, Nov. 19: Substitute Educators Day

  • Substitute educators play a vital role in the maintenance and continuity of daily education.
  • Substitute Educators Day seeks to encourage increased respect for substitute education employees, advocate for all school substitutes to receive wage and health benefits for those who work most to all of a full school year, receive genuine and continual professional development and provide a reminder for school staff on effective practices to prepare for, welcome and support substitute educators.
  • Arrange a schoolwide recognition of substitute educators in the read-aloud school bulletin, or on the intercom announcement