I probably don’t have to tell you this, but teaching is hard. The amount of responsibility placed on educators can be overwhelming at times. You see, the modern teacher doesn’t simply teach. Their responsibilities also fall under the category of coach, doctor, therapist, lifeguard, career counselor, and a hundred other professions! Ask any teacher and I’m sure they’ll tell you that they love what they do, but sometimes it just feels nice to know you’re appreciated.

Working for Van Andel Institute for Education, I’ve had the privilege to meet a number of amazing educators. I’ve seen first-hand how hard they strive to build classrooms where students can learn, create, and grow. Our team believes it’s not enough to simply empower teachers, we also need to show them that they are seen. This means expressing our appreciation and gratitude for the work they do and letting them know their incredible efforts have not gone unnoticed. So, as we prepare to close out Teacher Appreciation Week, here are just a few ways VAI endeavors to celebrate teachers (and how you can join us in spreading the word)!

Excellence, Awesome, and Apples

  • The Betty Van Andel Teachers of Excellence: Once a year, VAI highlights a group of outstanding K-12 teachers selected for their hard work and dedication to their students, and for creating classrooms where curiosity, creativity, and critical thinking thrive. 2021’s BVA Teachers of Excellence consists of ten amazing educators who work with students. Please join us in celebrating the amazing educators selected for the 2021 BVA Teachers of Excellence. We hope this honor inspires other teachers to strive towards their education goals and become educators who truly stand out. Readers can spread the word by congratulating the winners and spreading the word on social media!
  • Caught Being Awesome: Do you know an awesome educator who deserves to be celebrated for their work? Show them you care by nominating them for Caught Being Awesome! Each month, VAI selects one awesome educator to highlight on social media and gifts them with a free project-based learning unit of their choice. Teachers are selected from a pool of nominees provided by the public. Individuals looking to submit a nominee simply need to fill out a quick online form and their teacher will automatically be added to the list of potential winners.
  • Timely Topics: These are challenging times, and VAI wants to help teachers tackle the pandemic by providing them with lessons that are timely, meaningful, and fun! Teachers can take advantage of engaging projects that investigate everything from the history of vaccines to Earth Day, and did I forget to mention they’re completely free? These projects come from the makers of Blue Apple and have everything an educator needs to get started. Share these lessons with a teacher you know and allow us to do all the heavy lifting so they can focus on what they do best – teaching!

Thank You from All of Us

The 2020-2021 school year has been difficult for everyone. Yet despite the ongoing pandemic, teachers everywhere have risen to the occasion with profound levels of selflessness, creativity, and grit. We hope that the example of the Teachers of Excellence and those Caught Being Awesome will inspire others to do the same. To all the teachers out there, thank you again for all the amazing work you do!

We hope you are all staying healthy and safe during this difficult time. For more free educational resources, or ideas on how to promote healthy SEL, simply follow this link!