Happy Teacher Appreciation Week!

This week is Teacher Appreciation Week, May 8th-12th! To celebrate, each day we will post with opportunities to show your appreciation for our teachers with advocacy! We also have shared our reflections on what our teachers have meant to us.

Teacher Appreciation Reflections from VA BLOC

 Reflections from Melissa:
There are many teachers that have made an impact on me throughout the years, but the ones I remember the most are the ones who encouraged my writing.  In 2nd grade Mrs. Anderson gave me writing assignments that I eagerly exceeded the limits of.  I can remember writing 4 pages more than the requirement and my work being displayed in the hallway for all to see.  This enthusiasm is what inspired me to be a writer.  By the time I got to high school I was excited to write theme and character analyses, and even research papers in Mrs. Bowers class.  I carried that spirit with me in Dr. Styles screenwriting class while I was a student at North Carolina A&T.  My writing is what led Ms. Ferrell to introduce me to people who have worked in the film industry when I was at Norfolk State.  Because of their encouragement and guidance I am able to confidently express myself as a writer.  Thank you.
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 Reflections from Marcia:
“Beyond the love and care my teachers showed for me, my most cherished gift from my teachers has been their pushing me to think for myself — teaching me how to question and feed my inquisitive nature. It impacts my way of doing the job, with an affinity for solutions-seeking and research. I started off at Woodside Pre-School where I was encouraged to read and explore. Then I was off to John Marshall Elementary School where I remember being encouraged to go beyond the curriculum even at that early age (#TeamExtraCredit). Then off to Riverside Elementary School where I remember the science experiments, the field days, the reading exercises, the history, and the math! Then came the big change at Hines Middle School where I can’t thank my teachers enough for dealing with my “inquisitive-nature-meets-teenage-attitude”. This is where I found my love for civics and government! And then the real world of academics in the Pre-IB and IB program at Warwick High School (Go Raiders!) — my undying love for philosophy was enriched and I survived this program because of my teachers pushing me beyond where I had the confidence to see, flourishing beyond my wildest dreams. I placed 3rd in the district-wide 9th grade science fair, ran and won my first student government campaign, went on amazing fieldtrips, survived physics class, and I got to kick… on the soccer field and tennis court. I gained life-long friendships and went to prom and I remember opening my acceptance letter to Spelman College. I earned the full International Baccalaureate Diploma, and I started Spelman as a Sophomore. I then attended Howard University School of Divinity where everything all came together. All of this was because of my teachers who each year saw something in me and decided to speak life to it, to nurture my talents, to embrace my quirks, to teach to my strengths, to call me out when I needed it, and to honor my differences. It was them whose names should have been listed beside mine on every scholarship, award, acceptance letter, diploma, and on my Master’s Thesis title page. I don’t list all of this to brag. I list all of this to show what is possible when a student is given the tools, the opportunities, the encouragement, the discipline, and the love to succeed. Thank you to Mrs. Highsmith, Mrs. Richardson, Mrs. McGlennon, Mrs. Pugh-Scott, Mrs. Alley, Mrs. Putanyak, Mrs. (Weir) Lively, Mrs. Fitzgerald, Mrs. Wrenn, Ms. Armstrong, Mr. Davidson, Ms. Brunson, Mrs. Shephard, Mrs. Watson, Mrs. Roberts, Mr. Landis, Mrs. Coltrane, Ms. Gebre-Hewitt, Dr. Martinez, Mr. Mogck, Dr. Maloney, Dr. McGinnis, Dr. Gonzalez de Allen, Dr. Spence, Dr. Bellis, Dr. Gilbert, Dr. Davis, Dr. Hopson, Dr. Kwakye-Nuako, Dr. Newheart, Dr. Sanders, Dr. Trulear, Dr. Bledsoe, Dr. Harrison, and Dr. Ware – just to name a few. You changed my life and because of you and so many other teachers, I still love to grow and seek to learn all that I can.”
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Reflections from Cameron:
“At multiple points during my undergraduate career I found myself extremely grateful for the teachers in my life. Usually around very busy times, and especially when I had to churn out yet another paper, I would think to myself, ‘I am so grateful that I had awesome teachers who gave me an excellent foundation in writing and overall critical thinking.’ I would think of my high school teachers, whose feedback and critiques elevated my writing and constantly pushed me to ask questions. I would reflect on the journals I wrote in middle and elementary school school across all subjects and how the prompts allowed for reflection and creativity. I would think back to my Kindergarten and 1st grade teachers at Newsome Park Elementary School, Ms. Huemer and Ms. Bailey, who were the first teachers to encourage my writing. In their class, I wrote my own books and read them to my classmates. So when I look at this copy of a book I wrote in 1st grade, I don’t just see phonetic spelling and emerging handwriting, I see how their encouragement established a foundation for not only my writing, but my overall approach to education and life. I was and remain inquisitive, imaginative, and fearless. In my new role as a community organizer, those traits serve me well. So, this Teacher Appreciation Week I want to express my deepest gratitude for all of my teachers, and especially my Pre-K through 12 teachers who established the framework I still find myself returning to again and again.” 
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Reflections from Darius:
My teacher appreciation goes to Mrs. Amonte and Ms. White of Phoebus High School. The love from these two teachers is truly indescribable. When others counted me down and out, the support from Mrs. Amonte and Ms. White helped me along my way. Mrs. Amonte was from Boston and taught math, which was my favorite subject. She pushed me to limits I didn’t know I could achieve. While Ms. White, my history teacher, which was my least favorite subject, helped me to understand that the best way to propel the world forward is by understanding the past. Thank you Mrs. Amonte & Ms. White! 

Other Ways to Show Appreciation

  • Thank a Teacher Campaign!  You can participate in the Thank A Teacher Campaign via the Virginia Lottery and enter your teacher for a chance to win a vacation. You may submit thank yous online: https://www.valottery.com/thankateacher.aspx. If you would like a paper copy contact Cameron (cbell@newvirginiamajority.org 757-550-1877).
  • You can also send a “Thank You” with Farmer’s Insurance to your favorite teachers! Submit a message of appreciation through the Farmer‘s Insurance Thank America’s Teachers Campaign. Teachers who receive thank you messages can then apply for up to $100,000 in grants for educational programs. https://www.farmers.com/thank-americas-teachers/ 

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  • It is no secret that teachers are underpaid. Did you know that the General Assembly passed a bill, HB2332, which the governor then signed into law, to help Virginia get teacher salaries on par with the national average. To help Virginia reach this goal you can contact your State Delegate and Senator and ask them to continue working towards the goals outlined in HB2332 and allocate funds in the next budget for competitive teacher compensation. Use this website to find your legislators and their contact info: http://whosmy.virginiageneralassembly.gov/     If you want help drafting your message or want to get more involved in future education advocacy plans reach out to Cameron (cbell@newvirginiamajority.org, 757-550-1877)

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  • Virginia is currently experiencing a teacher shortage. And like other states across the nation, also lacks high numbers of Black teachers and teachers of color. Black students benefit from having Black teachers and in Hampton our student population for the 2015-2016 school year  was 59.8% Black and in Newport News the student population was 53% Black. We need more Black teachers. As we continue to appreciate the wonderful teachers we have now, let’s also encourage the future generation of educators. Here is an opportunity to share with anyone you know who is thinking about a career in education that will assist them with graduate school! Please share widely! https://irt.andover.edu/about/

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