Even in the middle of a global pandemic, folks across the state came together to show educators how much they care.
It was certainly one of the strangest Teacher and Staff Appreciation Weeks we’ve ever had. But not even Covid-19 was able to keep kids, families, colleagues and community members from showing their support for public school teachers and staff.
Partners and allies in our mission to support thriving public schools for every student sent us many inspiring things Wisconsinites did for our educators last week. See some of these photos on our Facebook album here!
This year, more than ever, it’s important to remember that schools and educators are the backbone of our communities—and when we all come together around that bedrock for kids and families, well, that’s worth celebrating. Teacher and Staff Appreciation Week also gave us an opportunity to look at some good news—not just the ways people honored educators last week, but some of the amazing things educators and students have done all spring.
One great example of that good news: Wisconsin schools have now served over 1 million meals to K-12 students since the Covid-19 closures took effect, according to the Department of Public Instruction—an amazing rally of our statewide community.
Let’s take a trip around the state to review just a few of the amazing celebrations of teachers, staff and public education!
Boyceville Education Association members marked the week with a highway clean-up effort on Highway 170.
Tomah High School will be fitted with brand-new painted trash and recycling bins to help sort its disposal—an Eagle Scout project completed by local student Sam!
Teachers in the Eau Claire Association of Educators gave back by donating massive amounts to provide 40,000 meals to their community!
Graduate students at UW-Stout are offering free clinical mental health counseling services to local students.
And in a more detailed story, let’s celebrate what Jimi Zawacki, an Osseo principal, did for teachers and staff in his school for Appreciation Week. Leaving home at 7:45 a.m. to pick up supplies and set off for 300 miles of driving with his wife and kids, Mr. Zawacki delivered a handwritten note, a local coffee shop gift card and a coffee or soda service (run out of the back of his family car!) to every single teacher and staff member in his school. His long day ended at 9:00 p.m. It’s just one amazing story of how people are supporting each other through a challenging year and appreciating the irreplaceable role educators play in the lives of Wisconsin kids and families!
Let’s celebrate some students and do-gooders whose talents and care have made splashes this spring.
In Manitowoc, a second-grade(!) student named Willem has made a point of continuing a running goal that started on the school playground, moving to the neighborhood sidewalks and trying to reach 200 miles by the end of the school year. Way to go!
A team of three public middle school students in Neenah placed in the top 100 in a nationwide virtual robotics competition. Congratulations, Myah, Lexi and Julia!
The Three Lakes School District is taking the lead on effective Covid-19 practices, using a state-of-the-art Clorox 360 device to sanitize classrooms. Thanks, facilities manager Dave Kirby, for keeping the district’s classrooms clean and safe!
Tigerton teachers returned their appreciation by honoring their 2020 graduating seniors with banners and photos on local streetlights.
In an especially heartwarming gesture, students and families in the Lake Mills community colored pictures, wrote letters and sent notes to their amazing educators to send their love and appreciation, even from home.
Madison community members, including our allies at GRUMPS, said thanks to educators by encouraging folks to donate to Foundation for Madison Public Schools projects to raise money for supplies and resources our teachers and staff can use so they can do their jobs for Wisconsin kids…and Pat Schiro, a retired teacher herself, used her generosity to show appreciation—matching donations one-for-one up to $10,000!
Jimena Maier, a teacher who started a food pantry in the garage—yes, the garage!—is now serving over 100 meals a week in the Dane County area.
Last month, teachers at Franklin Elementary School got busy, shouting-out to their students on YouTube to show kids how much they’re missed.
The Beloit School District area has ramped up its meal services rapidly, ultimately serving almost 14,000 meals to students last week—doubling the number sold in mid-March.
Similarly, the Cambridge School District opened up its meal distribution program to all students, meeting their community’s needs in challenging times.
The Palmyra-Eagle School District was on fire on Facebook! Student Council members sent their appreciation in video format to teachers; high school seniors made a video to read stories to younger students, helping to fill one of the gaps our communities face this spring; and Palmyra-Eagle School District teachers felt the love and returned the favor by delivering yard signs to graduating seniors.
Similar to the generosity in Menomonie, Waukesha School District psychologist Andrew Endsley has offered virtual support to all students struggling with the stresses and anxieties of the Covid-19 crisis!
The Southeastern Wisconsin Schools Alliance is promoting two stories from the area. Waukesha West High School choral director Zach Moore is putting together a virtual choir project with students around the state, and the West Allis West Milwaukee School District put together a video about the realities of virtual learning in their community. A great example of coming together!
Students continue to share! See here a story about Thomas, a high school student in Mequon, who has spent time organizing a book- and art supply drive for Milwaukee Public Schools families trying to stock their houses with learning materials.
AND…in perhaps the highest-profile news of the week, hip-hop icon Chance the Rapper honored Milwaukee Public Schools teacher Margaret Roushar on Thursday with a $15,000 donation to her and another $15,000 donation to Parkview School in Milwaukee, through a partnership with Box Tops for Education. Chance has been an outspoken public education supporter in Chicago and is moving his advocacy north to Milwaukee, too. Congratulations, Ms. Roushar and MPS!
We know these are only a few of the many things our state has done last week and all year to appreciate educators. Thank you to our network partners and allies who shared these stories and the love with us. Let’s move forward remembering what educators mean to our state, and commit to doing our part to make sure schools have the resources they need so that educators can do their jobs!