The Origin of Teacher Appreciation Week
Teacher Appreciation Week originated in 1953, and teachers have Eleanor Roosevelt to thank for its inception. Roosevelt convinced Congress that there needed to be a specific day on which teachers were recognized. Prior to Roosevelt going before Congress, it is believed that some states did practice, but it is unclear and unsubstantiated. The theory, however, is that either a teacher from Wisconsin or Arkansas (they aren’t sure which) wrote letters to her trying to get her to help teachers’ cause.
The Arkansas theory states that Mattye Whytte Wooldridge began communicating with leaders in the education system to form a day on which teachers would be honored. She ultimately began writing letters to Eleanor Roosevelt. Roosevelt decided the cause was worthy of her attention and took it to Congress.
Even with Eleanor Roosevelt taking the case to Congress and getting their help and support, it would take another 27 years for it to become an official national day. It was 1980 when the National Education Association (NEA), which was formed in 1857, joined together with the Kansas State and Indiana State Boards of Education and began to lobby Congress to have the day nationally recognized.
The First National Teacher Appreciation Day
National Teacher Day was celebrated on March 7th until 1984, when it was moved to May. Behind the move was the National Parent Teacher Association and, instead of just one day, they named the entire first week of May to be Teacher Appreciation Week. The NEA followed suit the next year and held National Teacher Appreciation Day on the Tuesday of the week.
There are still a few cases of oddities though. Massachusetts celebrates Teacher’s Day not on National Teacher Day, but instead on the first Sunday of June; perhaps because teachers are out for summer and therefore get to relax on their special day.