By John Horton

In the mid-1980s, the National PTA established the first full week of May as Teacher Appreciation Week and the National Education Association proclaimed Tuesday of that week as National Teacher Day.


This year, Teacher Appreciation Week runs from May 4 to May 8, with Tuesday being National Teacher Day. This is an opportunity for citizens to show their support and reaffirm their commitment to parent-teacher-student partnerships.


We shouldn’t waste the opportunity. Teachers are too important to our children and community.

Over the years, my wife, Isabel “Ellie” Horton, and I have been active PTA members and ardent supporters of public education. Both of our sons graduated from Norfolk Public Schools, with honors, John in 1996 and Ellery in 2000 as class valedictorian.


From 1992 to 1996, I served as the coordinator of Norfolk’s Truancy Action Program. With few exceptions, I have found teachers to be competent and caring. I have seen teachers give students their “roots of responsibility” and “wings of wonderment.”


I also have seen teachers go the extra mile for their students. If it were important or needed, they made it happen. In coping with their students’ anxiety, alienation and ailments, I have seen teachers take on the roles of mother, father, brother, sister, best friend, mentor, tutor, counselor, mediator, disciplinarian, policeman, referee, judge, peacemaker, preacher, nurse, director, organizer, taskmaster and, more importantly, full-time human being.


Teachers epitomize the purest sense of the helping relationship – helping others to become all that they can be. Teachers empower our children to become whole, curious and optimistic. They give our children guidance, hope, inspiration and promise. They are truly our “best bang for the buck.” Teachers are cost effective on a daily basis and an ongoing investment that yields great dividends for our future. They have insured that “no child is left behind” long before someone invented the slogan.


How can you show your appreciation? It’s easy:

  • Write a nice note to your children’s teachers.
  • Pick up the telephone and call the principal to compliment your child’s favorite teachers or those you think are making a difference in your child’s life.
  • Drop off a couple of dozen donuts at your neighborhood school for teachers to share.


It’s also a time to honor school staff members who support the teachers. For example, you can take a thank you card and/or candy to a secretary, clerk, teacher assistant, school volunteer, bus driver, security, cafeteria, and/or custodial personnel.


And why wait for Teacher Appreciation Day. You can show your thanks throughout the school year to the women and men who are there every day for your child. During report card time, do more than just sign your name, send a thank you note back to the teacher.


To help you think of ways to say “thank you,” here are some of my favorite verses from a couple of poems by Kevin William Huff:


…Why God created teachers,

In His wisdom and His grace,

Was to help us learn to make our world

A better, wiser place.

…For the dawn of each poet

Each philosopher and king

Begins with a Teacher

And the wisdom they bring.


To all of my teacher friends and allies, I send forth a “21 gun salute.” For, yours is a noble profession and everlasting achievement. Happy Teacher Appreciation Week! Keep up the good work!


John Horton, 74, a resident of Norfolk, Virginia, is a retired Marine sergeant major and recently retired juvenile probation officer.