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Celebrate National Teacher Day

Be sure to #ThankaTeacher on May 4, 2021.
Published: 02/17/2021

Never have our nation's teachers been more appreciated and seen—as they continually adapt to ensure successful learning for all students. Be sure to check back for updates on our celebration of Teacher Appreciation Week, May 3-7, 2021.

Ways to Recognize Teachers

Recognizing and celebrating the important roles and contributions of educators can take many forms. Below are some ideas to get you started in your community.

In the Community

  • Run congratulatory messages on electronic signs outside banks or other businesses, or on billboards, banners or storefront signs.
  • Offer teachers discounts on purchases made on Teacher Day, May 4, 2021.
  • Invite all teachers to a virtual reception in their honor, hosted by the mayor, school board, school administrators, Chamber of Commerce or other group.
  • Provide teachers with a before-school "coffee, juice, and pastries" salute for the staff lounge—or even in a school parking lot (think a socially-distanced tailgate party!).

In School

Consider the following actions that may be taken up by a school volunteer organization:

  • Hang a sign on each classroom door saluting, by name, the teacher within.
  • Have National Honor Society, Student Council or other student groups furnish punch and cookies for the teacher's lounge on Teacher Day.
  • Send teachers notes attached of gratitude, acknowledging how fortunate the school is to have a teacher of such high caliber.
  • Provide balloon bouquets and flowers for every teachers' lounge.

Local Education Association Activities

The local association affiliate may consider the following items for action among the many ways to celebrate this day:

  • Wear a button proclaiming your work and your membership in your local, state and national affiliate.
  • Sponsor an essay contest on "A Teacher to Remember," where students write about the special teacher who's made the biggest impact on their life. On Teacher Day, award savings bonds to the students and plaques to the teachers commemorated.
  • Give each teacher a small gift from the Association (perhaps a mug or notepad featuring the Teacher Day logo, or a bumper sticker with an appropriate slogan).
  • For each school library, buy books portraying teachers in a positive light. Inside each, place a bookplate noting that the book was a National Teacher Day gift from the Association.
  • Make Teacher Day a community service day, identifying one project on which all members can target their energies.
  • Use Teacher Day as the occasion to say thank you to those in the community who have made teachers' jobs a little easier by volunteering, donating equipment or otherwise helping schools work. 

Media Outreach

Consider the following to bring the day to the attention of the local media:

  • Suggest that local media outlets either publish or broadcast quick interviews where local citizens - both well-known and not - answer one question: What teacher had the greatest influence on your life? This can also make a great topic for a call-in radio show on Teacher Day.
  • Remind the community that teachers make a difference--in the classroom and beyond--by running an ad in the local newspaper on Teacher Day, listing all the local organizations where teachers do volunteer work.
  • Contact the advertising department of your local newspaper to suggest that they offer special classified ad rates for students and others in the community to "advertise" their appreciation of local teachers on Teacher Day. Ads can be directed to a specific teacher or a whole faculty. Local merchants may also want to purchase space on this special page or spread for a display ad saluting area teachers.
  • Contact a popular local radio station about the possibility of airing public service announcements to get the word to the public about Teacher Day. Script the spots and offer to record them yourself or have students record them.


The origins of National Teacher Day are murky. Around 1944 Arkansas teacher Mattye Whyte Woodridge began corresponding with political and education leaders about the need for a national day to honor teachers. Woodridge wrote to Eleanor Roosevelt, who in 1953 persuaded the 81st Congress to proclaim a National Teacher Day.

NEA, along with its Kansas and Indiana state affiliates and the Dodge City (Kan.) Local, lobbied Congress to create a national day to celebrate teachers. Congress declared March 7, 1980, as National Teacher Day for that year only.

NEA and its affiliates continued to observe National Teacher Day in March until 1985, when the NEA Representative Assembly voted to change the event to Tuesday of the first full week of May.

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