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Appreciating the Efforts of All Teachers, In School and After School

By Julie A. Luft, NSTA President 2023–2024

Posted on 2024-05-02

Appreciating the Efforts of All Teachers, In School and After School

Teacher Appreciation Week is one of my favorite weeks of the year. It’s a week when I am personally thankful for the teachers who have touched my life, such as Mrs. G., who let me gasify coal to understand the process—even though we ruined a few good test tubes. There was also Mr. B., who asked physics questions that resulted in my rolling soup cans down the grocery store aisle. He always said he should have made me work harder when he found out I was going to be a science teacher. These teachers, along with so many others, let me experience and do science.

However, they were more than teachers. When my parents were divorcing, Mrs. C. kept an eye on me and always asked how I was doing. When I needed a place to go after school, Mrs. H. took me to see her horses. As I struggled in school, Mr. M. read my laboratory discussion to the class and pointed out my unique use of data in the conclusion. Each of these teachers, along with so many others, were concerned for my well-being. This is the unspoken part of the position: caring about students and often providing the space and grace for them to thrive.

Teachers open minds to the world by creating opportunities to wonder, understand, and question. They skillfully guide students in tackling more challenging problems, assignments, or experiments. Equally important, teachers support students so they can navigate the curve balls that life sends and constantly cheer for students’ small and large successes. Of course, teachers always see more in students than students see in themselves—this is why they are teachers.

Let’s make this a special week together and recognize our teachers: not only the teachers in the schools, but those in informal settings (i.e., museums, zoos, nature parks) and who exist informally (i.e., a neighbor, a friend). They are ensuring a better tomorrow by supporting and caring for all students. To begin this important week, I want to thank those who are in the profession of education.  

Thank you for all you do. I know your job doesn’t end at 5 PM, and that you do far more than teach. Most importantly, I know you are curating our future (in so many ways), each and every day. We are lucky to have you in the education profession. Thank you, thank you, thank you.

Julie A. Luft, Ph.D. photo

Julie A. Luft is a former science teacher, and currently University of Georgia, Athens, Distinguished Research Professor and Athletic Association Professor, Science Education.


General Science Kindergarten Pre-K Preschool Technical and Vocational Education Early Childhood Elementary Middle School High School Postsecondary Pre-service Teachers Informal Education

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