We could use this blog post to outline all of the research on the crucial importance of a great teacher in the lives of students here and across the nation. We could write a book about just some of the incredible educators in Duval County who are inspiring their students and colleagues alike. Or we could just encourage you to #ThankATeacher past or present on social media (which, by the way, you should do).
But we'd like to use this occasion to ask you to go one step further. Here are five things you can do this week to make teachers a priority — not just in schools but in our community as a whole.
1. Thank a teacher you know — then listen. Really listen. Ask a teacher what they are passionate about, what issues in public education they think are important, what they would do to change our public schools for the better. Ask what you can do to support their classroom or their profession.
2. Learn about some of our city's most amazing teachers. Check out these five videos highlighting the 2016 Florida Blue Duval County Teacher of the Year finalists. You'll be blown away by their passion and skill.
3. Find out what a teacher really does. Sign up to spend a day with a great teacher in Duval County as part of our new pilot program. Or, if you're a member of a civic organization, club or other group, invite a teacher to speak at your next meeting. We'll make it easy.
4. Invite a public school teacher to an upcoming event where their leadership is recognized. On May 7, teachers will gather for the first in our spring series Teacher Roundtable, where they have chosen to tackle the issue of instructional autonomy. The Roundtable is an opportunity for teachers to make their voices heard on the issues that matter — teachers can sign up here. On May 12, we will join with Community First to recognize public school teachers who won PowerUP Jax grants to innovate in their classrooms. The event is free and open to the public — learn more here.
5. Consider investing in teacher leadership. Make a donation to the Jacksonville Public Education Fund and contribute to empowering teachers through the Teacher Roundtable, Teacher of the Year recognition, PowerUP Jax grants for innovation and much more. You can do so online at jaxpef.org/donate.
Whether you personally know a public school educator or not, you can help make teachers feel appreciated and respected throughout our city and nation. Teachers, thank you for taking on the world's most important charge: Preparing our children for the future that awaits them. They are in good hands.