It’s pretty amazing what we can do when we dream big. Led by our imaginations, humans have built previously unthinkable transportation systems, created life-saving medications, and even sent people into outer space.
But in some areas, our imaginations still aren’t big enough.
As we continue to see underpaid teachers, understaffed schools, and a funding method that ties the quality of many students’ educations to the income level in their neighborhood, it's hard to ignore the fact that public education is one of those areas. This Teacher Appreciation Week, in the midst of our usual statements of gratitude and gifts to teachers across America, we also have to confront a harsh reality: gifts and gratitude don’t get at the root of our biggest issues. Add in the current environment of increased scrutiny, distrust for public institutions, and a lot of unreasonable expectations for teachers and school staff, and we’ve got a lot of imagining to do to create an equitable educational system for all.
So where do we go from here? We talked to third grade teacher, Fletcher Nelson (commonly known on social media as @_thirdgradeswag), about that very question. His advice, rooted in years of experience as a public school teacher, includes these helpful tips:
- For parents, stay connected to the classroom. That can look like close communication with the teacher, following along with the latest topics and lessons, or sending in snacks and school supplies to support your child’s classroom – teachers often end up spending their own money on these necessities.
- For all citizens, parents and non-parents alike — vote in state and local elections for candidates supporting education! This can look like platforms that mention "school funding" but also those advocating for support beyond the classroom: more nurses, social workers, and counseling staff.
- Trust the teachers. If you want to know more about what they’re teaching, you can look up the state standards. Teachers know their classrooms and strive to do their best work for their students.
Today, while we work in our own communities for long-term change, we can also do our part to fund the things teachers and students need right now. That’s why this week, we’re contributing $200 to a number of North Carolina-based projects via Donors Choose, and inviting Nuggeteers to help carry them across the finish line! (Or if you’d prefer, head over to Donors Choose to find a project to help in your own backyard.)
Some of the projects we’re thrilled to help fund include:
- A gardening project to grow fruits and veggies
- Play-based, hands-on learning materials
- Flexible seating to encourage learning
- … and all the projects on this list!
Check back with us throughout the week for more on Teacher Appreciation Week, and to see how many projects we’ve checked off our list! This week and every week, we’re proud to take part in supporting teachers, whether through our The More You Nugget program, donating directly to classrooms via DonorsChoose, or using our platforms to raise awareness.
To be clear, this isn’t something teachers should need. But until teachers are freely provided with the resources they deserve, it’s something we can all be happy to do.