By Sally Absher

Today kicks off “Thank a Teacher” week, which runs from September 29 – October 30, 2014.

This week, parents, students, community members and area businesses have the opportunity to thank those who do important and valuable work every day: The wonderful teachers in our Knox County Schools.

How can you celebrate teachers and let them know you appreciate them? Here are a few suggestions from the KCS website:

•  Hand-written notes

•  Small mementos or gifts

•  Social media shout-outs, using #ThankaTeacher

•  Hand-made signs in the schools

Additionally, businesses will be commemorating the week with special messages on their marquees and by displaying posters thanking teachers. Many also will offer special discounts for teachers and deliver goodies to schools.

We queried KCS teachers via the SPEAK Facebook page, and here are some additional ideas:

•  Tangibly support an arts program in your child’s school (from a band teacher)

•  Volunteer at your neighborhood school even if you don’t have kids in school anymore!

•  Attend and speak up at BOE meetings (next meetings are Sept. 29 and Oct. 1)

•  Email BOE members, principals, and the Superintendent

•  Personally hand-written notes are wonderful!

•  Notes of appreciation – with specifics, not just “thanks”

•  Notes from students, not just parents!

•  Quick and easy: emailed thank you notes copied to the teacher’s supervisor or principal

•  Box of dry erase board markers, Kleenex for the fall sniffles and/or a bottle of wine

•  Homemade dinner – one teacher reports a parent brought her homemade chili, a bag of cheese, a container of sour cream, a bag of corn chips, and a homemade cake!

•  Homemade breads or candies

•  Please call me (the teacher) with concerns before you call anyone else

Sherry Morgan, past KCEA President, told The Focus, “Thank a Teacher Week was the brainchild of Virginia Babb who worked for the Great Schools Partnership. I was involved from the beginning with what teachers appreciated, like things listed above. We wanted it so anyone could participate and it did not have to be expensive.”

Morgan adds, “This was done because it was evident teachers were being bashed and beaten up during the 2011 legislative session. Something had to be done to make teachers feel appreciated.”

Now more than ever, with 72% of teachers saying they were neutral or disagreed with the statement “Overall my district is a good place to work and learn” in the 2013 KCS Teacher Survey, teachers need to know that parents and the community appreciate them and what they do. We are losing our most experienced, effective teachers at an alarming rate.

This year’s Thank a Teacher Week is coordinated by the Great Schools Partnership in conjunction with the Knox County Schools, Knox County Education Association, Knox County Council PTA, Knoxville Chamber and Knox County Schools Partners in Education.