A letter to educators this Teacher Appreciation Week
Read this post in Spanish // Blog en español aquí.
Editor’s Note: For the seventh year, Google for Education has partnered with the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) to support educators nationwide through the annual National Teacher of the Year program. In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, 2023 National Teacher of the Year Rebecka Peterson from Oklahoma shares an open letter to her fellow educators.
Teacher Appreciation Week is here, and I’m honored to thank each of you. It’s been a tough three years navigating post-pandemic learning. Our kids have changed, and so have we.
Still, there are some things that remain constant: our belief that every kid deserves access to a high-quality education, our commitment to our students’ well-being, and our deep-seated belief that education is the key out of generational poverty.
Rebecka in the classroom with her students.
Over the years, you’ve taught me the importance of staying grounded in the reality of what is, while also looking towards the hope of what can be. You’ve reminded me that every day may not be good, but there’s something good in every day. And you’ve shown me the importance of tucking away those good things and carrying them in my heart.
As this year's National Teacher of the Year, I look forward to the opportunity to learn not only from the teachers across my state, but also from teachers across the country. I’ve traveled all over my state of Oklahoma, listening to teachers’ stories. My goal has been to create a space to elevate their voices and journeys. But true to teacher form, they taught me more this year than I could ever give back.
For instance, Courtney from Pauls Valley reminded me of the importance of celebrating student success with families. Every month, she and her colleagues write postcards to at least two families to share good news from school.
Pam from Warner inspired me to keep fostering a growth mindset. I’ll never forget Pam’s response when one of her fourth graders proudly marched up to the whiteboard and incorrectly solved a problem, which was “Thank you for making a mistake so we can all learn.”
And then there’s Loren from Okemah, a rural town where most students are on free or reduced lunch. Loren and her colleagues often buy snacks to ensure their students stay regulated throughout the day.
Teachers, the impact you hold is infinite. One sentence you whisper, one little seed you plant can change a child’s trajectory. And this year’s Google Doodle recognizing Teacher Appreciation Week honors that impact — how what we do helps our students grow.
The 2023 Teacher Appreciation Week themed Google Doodle
Still, I know we hold so much. I know this time of year comes with never-ending to-do lists.
We all enter this time of year with a wide array of emotions: Some of us feel excited; others feel exhausted. Some of us are sending our kids off to their next great adventure; others are worrying about what summer means for their meals, routines and learning.
Most of us probably feel all these things. That’s OK. In fact, it’s good. Because it’s human.
So whatever you’re feeling, lean into it. Don’t shy away from them. That’s how you’ll be able to spot what your kids are feeling and be able to do what you do best: support them in the present moment.
I am so proud to belong to this profession — to belong to you.
“Every day may not be good, but there’s something good in every day.”