Whether you recognize one teacher for an outstanding job or honor an entire school of educators is up to you. So is how you honor them. It could be as simple as bringing a treat to each of the teachers at school or an after-school reception in the school cafeteria with food provided by the community.
It could also be a dinner, like the one Lisa Mandelert planned. Even though her event honored early-childhood teachers, the ideas can work for any grade level.
Event planners sought to recognize “Shining Stars” by asking for nominations from co-workers and parents. Then they decided to recognize all the nominated teachers.
Parents — and children — wrote letters of nomination, and the group placed a storyboard of those letters at the back of the room. “Tissues were always needed,” says Mandelert, a consultant with the Ohio affiliate of the Association for the Education of Young Children.
Mandelert, who has also planned statewide dinners, advises:
- If you are looking for a location that’s a little more elegant than the school grounds, businesses might offer a free meeting room. And don’t forget about spaces that you may be able to get for free — like a community clubhouse or someone’s back yard.
- Whether food is catered or potluck, make sure the experience is special for the teachers. A local culinary school provided elegant desserts and notes of appreciation for Mandelert’s group.
- A simple plaque might be awarded, but the event “was really about the experience and the recognition,” she says.
Teachers thrive on gratification, and gestures like a community dinner help make teaching more special. After all, “it’s a calling,” as Mandelert says. “It comes from the heart.”