Teachers in Denton County were showered all week with a host of events and activities, food and gifts as a show of gratitude for the work they do.
It was all part of Teacher Appreciation Week, which concludes today.
Karen Gravley, a third-grade teacher at Lake Dallas Elementary School, said the activities were like celebrating “a birthday all week.”
“It makes it worth it,” she said. “It makes you feel like people know, they understand and they emphasize it’s not an easy job.”
Thirty years ago, the National PTA designated the first week in May as Teacher Appreciation Week and a time for showing gratitude and recognizing the contributions of educators.
Throughout the county this week, school officials say they provided breakfast, lunch, hamburger cook-outs, desserts and limo rides to lunch to show appreciation for staff. At some schools, PTA members covered lunch duty for teachers; at Crownover Middle School in Corinth today, teachers are being loaned cars from a local dealership to drive off-campus to lunch.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, teachers at Lake Dallas Elementary were treated to complimentary 15-minute massages. Teachers took turns watching each others’ classes while they went to an empty classroom at the school where jazz was playing on a radio and two massage chairs and staff from HealthSource of Corinth, a chiropractic business, awaited them. Throughout the two days, about 30 people signed up for scheduled massages.
Those who participated left their sessions with smiles on their faces and a look of relaxation.
“It was wonderful, yes. So nice. It’s just nice to take 15 minutes and get away from it all,” said Beth Saralegui, a school librarian. “I kind of feel rejuvenated to go back. When you feel appreciated, it just makes you feel good about it all.”
Kelsey Starkey, a first-year kindergarten teacher at Lake Dallas Elementary, said the acknowledgment for her work was “sweet.” She said students left her drawings and would express their love for her.
In her first year of teaching, Starkey said she’s found rewards working with students and support from others whenever she encountered challenges.
“A week like this is very special because you feel like you’re appreciated for those times it’s harder to believe,” she said.
At Liberty Christian School in Argyle on Wednesday, about 100 students arrived more than an hour and a half before school to show their appreciation for school staff.
They lined a walkway to the entrance of the school’s Commons Place, a gathering space, to cheer, applaud and high-five staff. It brought a smile to the faces of some educators, embarrassed a few and caused some to dance or run.
Inside the Commons Place were decorated tables and a spread of eggs, bacon, pastries, fruit, juice and coffee, and more students to greet teachers as they picked up a plate. After making their way through the serving line and to a table, students met the educators at their tables to pray for them.
The teacher breakfast was hosted by the school’s National Honor Society chapter.
“This is one of NHS’s favorite things to do,” said Toni King, a co-sponsor for the Liberty Christian NHS. “This is the highlight of our week.”
The NHS chapter has hosted a breakfast in May for educators for more than 20 years, said Rhonda Smith, the school’s first NHS chapter sponsor. When the school was located at its original location on Bonnie Brae Street, students would arrive at 6 a.m. to prepare breakfast. The food is now prepared by school cooks.
Students participating in the breakfast Wednesday said it was an opportunity to give back to the individuals who’ve arrived early and even remained after school to help them.
“Just by getting here at 7 [a.m.], it’s not a big deal because they get here early to put in the time and effort to help us,” said senior Brooke Morrissy.
It’s those types of gestures shown toward them during the week that teachers said make them feel special and valued.
“They owe it to me,” Kirk Holand, a Liberty Christian theater teacher, said jokingly. “It’s energizing. You walk down the line and you see kids that you’ve had for several years, and their appreciation — it’s fun. It’s a blast.”
BRITNEY TABOR can be reached at 940-566-6876 and via Twitter at @BritneyTabor.