A Teacher Appreciation Week Shoutout
If you can read this blog post, thank a teacher.
The variation on the famous quote attributed to Harry S. Truman is the idea behind National Teacher Appreciation Week. It is an opportunity to say,
Good looking out!
to educators from all walks of life who make learning fun and switch on the light of curiosity and wonder that exist in all of us.
That includes everyone from parents who teach their children the alphabet before preschool to the science teachers who can explain both bots and botany. From the English tutors who work overtime to ensure their pupils understand dangling participles to college professors who shape young minds for the corporate sector. Teachers work to unlock the inherent potential that exists within all people starting at the earliest age.
They are all standouts during Teacher Appreciation Week, which began as National Teacher Appreciation Day in 1953. The then First Lady Eleanor Roosevelt urged Congress to commemorate educators on the first Tuesday of the first full week of May each year. About 30 years later, the National Education Association successfully pushed for the entire first week of May as a designation.
At United Way of King County, we understand that education is key to breaking the cycle of poverty and that parents and teachers are the first-line responders to making it happen. We support programs that pave the way for success from early education through college.
While partnering with groups dedicated to ensuring all students have opportunities and access to education tools, we see firsthand the challenges teachers have faced during the two-year COVID-19 pandemic that disrupted education systems worldwide. United Way is proud to say that we’ve continued to support those organizations during the pandemic, and we believe it’s on all of us to rally behind our educators if we truly want to realize a community where all people thrive.
United Way salutes teachers and administrators to power both ParentChild+ and Bridge to Finish, programs that help support the early and later years of formal education. Both programs underscore our aim to eliminate barriers for young people in King County (particularly those from underserved populations) to pursue both an education and their dreams.
ParentChild+ is a program launched more than 50 years ago to close the kindergarten preparation gap by supporting parents during the crucial early years of their kids’ development.
Once a family enrolls in ParentChild+, they and their 2- to 3-year-olds are matched with trained coaches known as “home visitors” of the same language and cultural backgrounds. Home visitors meet with families twice a week for 30 minutes per visit (during the pandemic, these visits became virtual).
The benefits of the program are immediate and long-lasting: ParentChild+ graduates have 30% higher high school graduation rates than their peers.
“It’s a wonderful program and one of the things where the community really feels valued and empowered,” said Cynthia Grayson, Executive Director of InterCultural Children & Family Services (ICCFS), a ParentChild+ partner provider. “Children love it, and the parents appreciate the additional support. Some of them themselves have not had positive experiences in school. But we tell them that that does not mean your child can’t. It has been very successful.”
Bridge to Finish helps college students get the services they need to stay in school and complete their education. There are 10 Bridge to Finish “Benefits Hub” locations on community and technical college campuses throughout King County.
Benefits Hubs are staffed by AmeriCorps members, who can also provide mental health and legal services resources. Each location offers services that include one-time emergency grants, housing support, tax help, food pantries and financial coaching to empower students to stay in school and complete their education.
Some students are referred to Bridge to Finish by their college professors.
Bridge to Finish piloted during the 2017-2018 academic year. During 2020-2021, the program connected nearly 6,000 students to 27,037 interventions and awarded more than $1 million in emergency grants to students. That has kept many students’ dreams of gaining a college degree from being derailed.
United Way helps keep students on the pathways of education and helps eliminate roadblocks in their path. But we know that parents and teachers put students on those paths and inspire them to go further.
We say thanks, on Teacher Appreciation Week and all year long.