Editor’s note: This article is part of a series where we thank the Unexpected Heroes who keep Utah running during the coronavirus pandemic. Every Monday, we'll highlight a different industry and ask you to write in to thank the workers in that industry for their service. During the week, we'll profile someone who works in that industry. Every Friday, we'll publish some of your submissions and send the messages of thanks to those in the field.
SALT LAKE CITY — It's almost universally agreed upon that teachers are overworked, underthanked and underpaid.
These professionals have put in years of training, hours of preparation and days upon days of hard work cultivating the talents and minds of those in their charge; they are lifelong learners by nature and trade who, this year, quickly adapted to a remote teaching environment.
This week, hundreds of Utahns responded with messages of support, encouragement and gratitude for teachers.
Before we get to those, we asked an expert to weigh in with how you can best thank teachers, this week's Unexpected Heroes in Utah.
How you can help
For Utahns wanting to help teachers, Patty Norman, Utah State Board of Education deputy superintendent for student success, has some tips:
- Communicate: "Let them know how your child is feeling, what they are understanding, and what they might need," Norman said. "Teachers are eager to hear from you."
- Connect: "Schedule a time to meet with them virtually to talk to you/your student. They want to stay connected."
- Show their work: Teachers want to see your child putting their skills to use, Norman said. "Take a picture of your student learning at home and send it to them."
- Learn daily: "If a day gets super crazy, at least commit to 30 minutes a day of learning (even through the summer if possible)," Norman said.
- Reach out: Cards, emails, notes or pictures would mean the world to some teachers. "They miss your kids," she said.
- Send a self-care gift: Norman suggests sending over some self-care items, like puzzles, plants or music.
- Donate protective materials: Think ahead to what items teachers might need in the summer or fall, and see if you can donate. Norman lists hand sanitizer, masks for the teacher or classmates or face mask extenders that can cut down on the wear and tear on the ears from masks.
Thanking Utah's teachers
"Dear teachers, Auto correct just put in 'treasures' in place of teachers and it couldn't be a better choice of words. Thank you, thank you for the countless hours and boundless effort you have put into teaching this year. From virtual choir concerts to 'use what you have' art projects, online conferences for individual help to notes and videos of love, encouragement and hope, your efforts have not gone unnoticed. My gratitude for your love, caring, flexibility and support brings tears to my eyes."
"I’m most grateful for all teachers. Especially ours at Voyage Academy in Clinton. This home schooling stuff is so hard for me and these wonderful teachers make it look so easy! I’d rather be at work and do 50 colonoscopies than play teacher anymore! THANKS A MILLION!!"
"Teachers are the life blood of the nation. As parents face the daunting task of helping their students completing online learning it is apparent that teachers are the motivators and leaders in a child’s education. Teachers have had an unexpected challenge of tailoring their lesson plans which many times include spontaneous activities into online learning. Thank you teachers for your efforts and to those parents who recognize the value of those teachers efforts and help their children complete the lessons daily and weekly generated by our non replaceable teachers."
"We have 11 grandchildren being educated in the state of Utah. From kindergarten though high school, these children have had the BEST teachers; those who not only teach the subject well, but also are role models of integrity, kindness, and patience. We are grateful for those of you who teach our family. We give you a heartfelt thank you! And we thank our daughters who have stepped up and continued in teaching their own children during this time. They have been super amazing in every way! ♥️ "
"Thank you for being positive and providing stability during this time. My kids have been able to contact you and get a quick and friendly response to their questions. They know you are there for them and means a lot! I know you do a lot behind the scenes, just like you always have, and want you to know it is appreciated."
"Teachers have always been my heroes, not just in this time of Covid-19, but every day of every school year. Teachers not only educate our future workforce, but also help preserve our democracy. Thomas Jefferson once said "'If a nation expects to be ignorant and free,....it expects what never was and never will be.' Thank you for always going the extra mile, and in these last few weeks, the extra five miles to help every student in the state. You will be welcoming many smiling faces in the fall on both parents and students!"
"Thank you so much for your tireless (even though I'm sure you're exhausted) efforts! I cannot thank you enough for not giving up on all of us. Thank you for the countless hours you put in each and every day, trying to give our children some sense of normalcy in these strange and trying times. Thank you. Thank you for giving them, and us, the tools we need to get through. Even when we kicked, screamed, complained, and cried. You are worth more than we ever appreciated."
"Thank you for reminding us that some things are too important to stop even in a pandemic: things such as knowledge, compassion, growth, and truth."
"No one in this world does more good than a good teacher! Now more than ever, the difference you can make in a young person’s life can be the difference between future success and failure. Even in normal times, I have huge respect for what you do — but especially now, as you do your best from a distance, I thank you — and salute you. Hang in there! Brighter days ahead, especially if you continue to teach. Respectfully, Kent Norton"