As the saying goes: “If you can read this, thank a teacher.”

Or, if you can figure out how much to leave as a tip on a restaurant charge — thank a teacher. Or, if you can estimate how much paint is needed to cover a wall — thank a teacher. Or if you know that you have to shake up oil and vinegar to make it mix — thank a teacher.

How many skills do we use every day that we learned from our days in a classroom? LOTS OF THEM.

It never hurts to be reminded about the valuable role teachers have played in our lives — even as grown-ups — and last Thursday, May 3, an event was held here that did just that. Education Foundation of Teton Valley, Teton School District #401, and Teton High School partnered together to present the second annual THS Academic Awards Banquet. The event celebrated the top 10% of the senior class, using a weighted GPA from their first seven semesters at Teton High.

Remarkable as their cumulative achievements are, it wasn’t just about the students.  Rather, the night was a chance to also recognize excellent teachers. The idea is simple: each of the students was asked to three “significant educators.” Most chose one from each level of schooling (elementary school, middle school, and high school). Then the honoree chose just one of these remarkable teachers to share the stage with them.

Each student wrote a brief essay stating why this particular person had meant so much to them. The reasons varied widely but all shared a common thread — the significant educator had taught the honorees in ways that went beyond the lesson plan.

The evening produced some emotional moments as the students and teachers stories were read. Distinguished alum Tyler McKellar, class of 1993, presented some valuable insights. Proud parents and other teachers shared the tables with these outstanding students and their chosen significant educators. (Photos of the evening are posted on the district’s Facebook page).

Every average or struggling student needs excellent teachers, too. Here, they have them.

What’s exciting to see in the district’s classrooms is that, as another saying goes, “Teachers change the world one child at a time.” While certainly evident when recognizing academic excellence by top students, the other 90% of students, even those who face learning challenges, receive the same care and attention.

In other words, our educators aren’t teaching in the hope of some kind of award — they’re striving to make sure every student is empowered to reach their full potential. And their expertise is receiving some wide-spread attention. For example:

  • This March, the seventh-grade “Collaborative Disruption” team of teachers (in photo) presented a session at the ASCD (formerly the Association of School and Curriculum Development) Conference in Boston. These teachers are, L-R, Ann-Marie Kunz, Deb Johnson, Pat Hogan, Mike Brown, and Autumn Wombacher.
  • The innovative team strategies being implemented at Teton Middle School will be featured on a podcast on Education Talk Radio at 8:30 am MDT on Monday, May 21.  TMS Principal Brian Ashton, and team-members Pat and Deb will be interviewed.
  • Sixth-grade teacher Kim Witek has been chosen to present at an international conference in Paris this summer. (Read more about this opportunity here.)

Teachers on every level are providing excellent educational experiences in the schoolroom (or beyond).  Visit a dual-immersion classroom in Driggs Elementary for a taste.  Stop by Tetonia Elementary and see their greenhouse. At Victor Elementary, one class has read nine-million words this year; the other class is only about 80,000 behind.  At RUES, students this week are visiting Yellowstone, taking Bike Week lessons, and touring Teton Middle School to understand the transition to another building.

On May 2, at the first session of contract negotiations with representatives of the Teton Education Association, the first thing that school board chair Chris Isaacson and board member Nan Pugh stated to Lisie Smith, Julie Gottler,  and Michelle Nicholson was APPRECIATION for the hard work and service provided to district students by our teachers.

Tuesday, May 8, is National Teacher Day, part of Teacher Appreciation Week, which always takes place in the first full week of May. This is a perfect chance, like the Academic Awards Banquet turned out to be, to express your gratitude to a local teacher.  THANK YOU!

happy teacher appreciation week