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National Link: Teacher Appreciation

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National Teachers' Day

Teacher Appreciation

On May 3rd, the United States celebrated the 26th official National Teachers' Day, to show appreciation for educators all over the country. While 1985 marked the first federally recognized day to honor teachers, the history of teacher appreciation runs far deeper.

In 1944, Mrs. Mattye Whyte Woodridge, an Arkansas teacher, reached out to her local political and educational leaders, advocating for a national day to recognize the importance of teachers in society. Unsatisfied with the glacial pace of local politics, Woodridge wrote to First Lady Elanor Roosevelt. Though the campaign required stoic patience, Mrs. Roosevelt eventually persuaded the 81st Congress to proclaim in 1953 the first National Teachers' Day.

While this would not become a recurring holiday until 1985, Roosevelt’s victory laid the groundwork for a yearly celebration of educators around the country. The National Education Association (NEA) began its pursuit of a contemporary day of recognition for teachers in the late 1970s and were rewarded with another National Teachers’ Day in 1980. However, it was not recognized the next year.

NEA, continuing to celebrate Teacher Day each year, teamed up with the National PTA in 1985. Together, the groups decided that not only should teachers be honored one day each year, but that a full week would be needed to honor educators’ importance. Since then, National Teachers’ Week is observed the first full week of May, and National Teachers’ Day that Tuesday, now officially a US holiday.

To learn more about National Teachers’ Day, visit the NEA website.