In good times and bad times, there is always one constant stabilizing and positive force in all of our communities: our local public schools and our public school workers. Public schools are the underpinning of our cultural and political system. Public education is the engine that moves us as a society toward a common destiny.
The week of May 4 is Teacher Appreciation Week. It is a time for our communities to take time to honor local educators and acknowledge the crucial role teachers and support staff play in making sure every student receives a quality education. Beyond their work in the classroom, our school employees play an important role in our communities as active volunteers and role models.
Throughout central region, teachers and support staff are integral members of our community and during this uncertain economic times, they are on the frontline in a supportive role for those in need. In addition to the incredible number of hours that public school employees volunteer, they also give financially to our communities.
The teachers of the West Branch Education Association collect funds to provide food for the needy. Philipsburg Osceola teachers give a donation yearly to the local library. The DuBois Area Education Association gives a $2500 scholarship to one of our graduating seniors who will major and graduate with a major in education. DAEA members also coach little league, baseball, softball, soccer and other sport teams. DAEA members belong to and are officers in the Knights of Columbus, Rotary and other service organizations like the Eagles and Elks. Some teachers spend their time volounteering as firefighters and paramedics in our community as well.
The members of the Clearfield Education Association give more than $2000 a year for local charities, such as the food bank and the Salvation Army. Since the program started a few years, teachers in Clearfield have donated more than $14,000 to their community.
In Altoona, the support staff workers volunteer their time to work for Habitat for Humanities and the Domestic Abuse Shelter and Teen Shelter. These employees also sought out grants to help students who could not afford the cost of going to the prom.
In State College, teachers and support staff work closely with many local charities and participate in the United Way Day of Caring.
These are just a few of the examples of how our school employees contribute to our communities. When we survey our members about their community volunteer work, the results are astounding. Teachers and support staff are involved in every aspect of our communities, including civic, religious and volunteer organizations.
School employees do these activities without the need for recognition, and in many cases, they do not want public acknowledgement. It is not in their nature to “tout their own horns.”
National Teacher Appreciation Week is a great time to recognize the commitment of public school employees to our students and our families. This is not something that can be measured on a test score or a district report card. For many of us, it is all part of the job and the commitment we have to making our communities a better place to live.
President, Central Region PSEA and Philipsburg-Osceola Education Association
Teacher, Philipsburg Elementary