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Not All Heroes Wear Capes, They Teach: National Heritage Academies Celebrates Teacher Appreciation Week

Kelsey Pardue  |  May 08, 2020

It takes a big heart to help shape little minds, and teachers all over the world change the lives of millions of children every day. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, educators have had to adjust to a new way of communicating with students amid the crisis and have done even more to continue educating students through remote learning.

National Heritage Academies (NHA) is committed to celebrating and recognizing the dedication and passion teachers bring to the classroom daily to transform lives, and Teacher Appreciation Week is one of the several occasions NHA does so.

“The job of a teacher isn’t easy, especially now, given the heart of what they do is based on in-person connections, but they are taking on the new remote teaching reality with grace, care, and positivity,” said Brian Britton, NHA president and chief executive officer. “Their dedication and hard work is nothing short of amazing.”

Since 1984, the National Parent Teacher Association® (PTA), has designated one week in May as a special time to honor the men and women who lend their passion and skills to educating children. This year the celebration is taking place from May 4 through May 8.

NHA teachers work tirelessly to provide a rigorous education, guide children’s moral compass, and dedicate their lives to doing the right thing for students, always. We asked NHA leaders what they are most appreciative of when it comes to their teachers.

Dana Gurganus, principal at South Canton Scholars Charter Academy, recently stumbled across a quote online and believes it exemplifies the reason why teachers are working so hard right now, “I want my students to come out on the other side of this stronger than we entered. I hope that when this is all over, they see school and education as a gift.” - Holli Ross.

All of the phone calls, Google Meetings, and home learning plans are for this exact reason. “This why the work that our teachers are doing day in and day out is essential,” said Gurganus. “Our teachers are heroes because they immediately jumped into action when we heard news of the school closure. They did everything they needed to, without complaint or reservation. This sacrifice is what makes a hero.”

Principal at Detroit Enterprise Academy, Emily Gagnon, admires her teachers’ dedication to their students during this time of remote learning. “They are consistently seeking out ways to ensure they are making connections with our students and celebrating them,” she said.

Gagnon thought back to her experience as a teacher, there were several moments that fueled her passion as an educator, but what fuels her now is her former students who are now adults. “I believe there is no greater feeling than former students reaching out to me through social media, phone calls, or stopping by to visit me and share how I made a difference in their lives,” she shared. “Every time this happens, I am recharged as an educator.”

What Doug Hower, principal at Greensboro Academy, admires most about teachers is that they never give up, they never take more than they give, and because they always push each student to achieve their best while supporting each student.

Even students are working hard to ensure teachers are recognized and celebrated even though they aren’t able to meet face-to-face. Alexis Warren, student at Gate City Charter Academy, sent a video to her teachers sharing a song she wrote in appreciation for them.

Meanwhile, Ira Kleiman, principal at Westfield Charter Academy, reflects on this time of remote learning and is in awe of the true grit that teachers are displaying. “I most appreciate our teachers’ self-sacrifice, dedication, perseverance, and passion to work every day under very challenging circumstances to make the world a better place, one child at a time!”

The definition of a hero is a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. Following the unexpected school closures, NHA teachers have not backed down but instead stood tall to continue supporting the academic success of students.

We asked NHA principals to share why they believe teachers are heroes.

Teachers are heroes because…

“They encourage, affirm, and instruct children, both academically and emotionally, to prepare to be productive citizens within our community. Their love of children and teaching is a gift, one that we should not take for granted. I am so proud of how our educators have navigated the current landscape of teaching.” – Dana Gurganus.

“They offer something to children that no one else can: an education. Education is the one thing someone can never take from you. By providing our students with a quality education, our students are offered better opportunities in the future. As the saying goes, ‘teachers make all other professions possible.” – Emily Gagnon.

“A hero to me is someone who shows courage, who is a positive role model, and fights for justice for all individuals. This defines our teachers and I could not be prouder to work with them each and every day. I stand in awe of what they do and their positive impact on our kids every day.” – Ira Kleiman.

“Teachers balance so many needs and demands in their classrooms and outside of their classrooms. They are not just teachers, they are mentors, counselors, parents, friends, and so much more. They bring spark and passion into their work and push themselves harder than anyone I know.” – Jennifer Conley.

“Teachers engage the disengaged. They inspire the uninspired. They create bright futures and opportunities for all students.” – Doug Hower.

“Teachers are not just instructors. They are mothers, fathers, pastors, therapist, coaches, and so much more. This makes them the real heroes!” – ReNae Robinson.