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American Education Week: Celebrating Our School Community

Princess Moss honors ESPs 

Thanks, school visits, and a vote for a celebrity substitute teacher mark the annual recognition of public schools.

For 95 years, American Education Week (AEW) has celebrated the hard-working men and women who work on behalf of America’s students, and this year’s reveling was on full blast, elevating and championing the outstanding work and contributions of teachers, bus drivers, paraeducators, cafeteria workers, school nurses, school secretaries, and custodians—plus countless others! The week-long (Nov. 14-18) celebration honored students and parents, too, and rededicated the community at large to a quality public education for every student.

In case you missed it, NEA offers a recap.

Monday, Nov. 14

The AEW Kickoff Day presented all Americans with a wonderful opportunity to celebrate public education. The day honored individuals who are making a difference in ensuring that every child receives a quality education. Students, in particular, paid special tribute to educators. Watch this video to see how these students would celebrate by getting their favorite educator a gift:

Tuesday, Nov. 15

On Parents Day, schools invited parents into the classroom for a hands-on experience of what the day is like for their child. Parents, ever wonder what job your kid would give you at their school? Well, NEA asked:

Wednesday, Nov. 16

Wednesday was a national day of recognition of education support professionals (ESP) who are integral members of the education team. ESP Day focused on the importance of these school employees, who make up 40 percent of the school staff and take care of students every day, making sure they have the tools they need to succeed in school.

Lily Eskelsen Garcia attends ESP Day event in Spokane, Washington

President Lily Eskelsen García, along with National ESP of the Year Doreen McGuire Grigg and Council for Education Support President Debby Chandler, visited Rogers High School in Spokane, Wash., where they teamed up with the nice Project and pulled off a series of surprises for the self-proclaimed “Lunch Bunch,” the cafeteria workers at the school. The surprises included royal treatment, from a breakfast celebration to an extreme makeover of the “Lunch Bunch” break room!

Princess Moss gives out check for ESP Day 2016

On the opposite coast, NEA Secretary-Treasurer Princess Moss and local leaders from Alexandria, Va. celebrated ESP Day with visits to three area schools: TC Williams High School, George Mason Elementary School, and Francis C. Hammond Middle School. Like any good guest, Moss came bearing a special gift: Each school received from NEA a $1,000 check for programs and services that will benefit staff and students! But more than just the check, the day was a whirlwind of excitement, celebration, and emotion. Read more about ESP Day.

Thursday, Nov. 17

On AEW’s Educator for a Day, leaders across the country were invited to serve as educators in their local public school districts to get a glimpse at a day in the life of a school employee. Usually, this day brings in a community member, but here are some fictional characters students would bring to school during American Education Week:  

Friday, Nov. 18

Substitute Educators Day honored the educators who are called upon to replace regularly employed teachers. In honor of AEW’s 95th year, NEA asked educators from across the country to vote for whom they’d like to see substituting for them. The people voted, and this time it was for talk show host Ellen DeGeneres. The competition was stiff, as Ellen competed with several high-profile TV personalities, such as Anderson Cooper, Wendy Williams, Julie Chen and Kelly Ripa. Voters overwhelmingly chose Ellen with 63 percent of the vote. Anderson Cooper was a distant second with 15 percent. 

Kids, too, shared with NEA who they would want to be their substitute teacher. Take a look:

AEW was first celebrated in 1921, with NEA and the American Legion as co-sponsors, and grew out of national concern over illiteracy. After more than nine decades, the original goal of AEW—to generate public awareness and support for education—continues today. To find out more about AEW, visit