Skip to Content

U.S. education secretary, members of Congress unveil project to thank teachers

Hundreds of students, teachers join VIPs for unveiling of NEA’s ‘Teacher Thank-You Project’

WASHINGTON - May 04, 2009 -

Kicking off National Teacher Appreciation Week, hundreds of local public school students and their teachers joined U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan, members of Congress and National Education Association President Dennis Van Roekel to unveil NEA’s “Teacher Thank-You Project,” a never-before-seen collection of thousands of thank-you cards artfully displayed on a larger-than-life mural measuring 8 feet tall and 75 feet wide.

En Español: El Secretario de Educación de EE.UU. y miembros del Congreso inauguran proyecto para dar gracias a los maestros

“This unique tapestry of thank-you notes, created by students and people across the country, is a tangible tribute to the unwavering passion, hard work and commitment of America’s teachers,” said NEA President Van Roekel.  “Our goal is to encourage everyone to take the time to thank a teacher not only during Teacher Appreciation Week or Teacher Day, but throughout the year.  Teachers are the nation’s heroes—they motivate young minds, inspire ingenuity and enable students to accomplish extraordinary accomplishments.”

Aimed at publicly thanking teachers for their hard work and dedication to America’s students, NEA’s Teacher Thank-You Project was created in 2007 in response to an NEA poll that found the gift teachers would most like to receive is a simple “thank you.”  Over the past two years, the project has received heartfelt thank-you notes and cards from celebrities, athletes, notable public figures, students and individuals from across the nation.  The goal is to keep the mural growing and create the largest public tribute of thanks to teachers nationwide.

“President Obama and our First Lady are abundantly grateful for the educational opportunities they've  had and are working hard to make sure every young person in America is also afforded these opportunities,” said Secretary Duncan. 

“It all starts with the hard-working, passionate, and dedicated teachers in our classrooms who inspire and challenge our kids, going the extra mile and doing whatever it takes to ensure the academic success of their students. There is no substitute for a personal ‘thank you’ from a young person whose life you touched, but I want to thank teachers on behalf of our country for their commitment to education and for making a real difference in our children's lives. Our future depends on our nation's great teachers and they deserve our utmost gratitude.”  

The collection of teacher thank-you cards can also be viewed online at

The interactive virtual mural was created in conjunction with NEA Member Benefits.  Through the site, individuals can peruse through thousands of cards, view virtual images and video footage of the mural and write their own thank-you cards to send to their favorite educators.

“Public education employees are among the most important and hardest working individuals in our nation,” said Gary Phoebus, CEO and president of NEA Member Benefits. “Educators continually sacrifice their personal time and money to ensure students can achieve their dreams.  Their ongoing dedication and commitment deserve our thanks all year round.” 

Teacher Thank-You Project

NEA’s Teacher Thank-You Project carries a simple message:  Thank a Teacher.  To be part of the project, individuals can visit or mail a handmade card to: NEA’s Teacher Thank-You Project, c/o NEA, P.O. Box 66458, Washington, DC  20035.  

About National Teacher Day

NEA celebrates National Teacher Day each year on Tuesday of the first full week of May. The day celebrates the outstanding work and lifelong dedication of teachers nationwide. National Teacher Day came into being through the leadership and persistence of Eleanor Roosevelt. In 1953, she persuaded the 81st Congress to proclaim May 7 that year as National Teacher Day. 

For more information visit

Note to Editors:  High-resolution photos, as well as b-roll footage, is available upon request.

# # #

The National Education Association is the nation’s largest professional employee organization, representing
3.2 million elementary and secondary teachers, higher education faculty, education support professionals, school administrators, retired educators and students preparing to become teachers

CONTACT: Christiana Campos (202) 822-7823,