National Teacher Day
Also known as
National Teachers Day
Teacher Appreciation Day
the first Tuesday in March (until 1979)
on March 7th (1980)
the first Tuesday in March (1981 to 1984)
Tuesday of Teacher Appreciation Week (since 1985)
Mattie Whyte Woodridge
National Teacher Day honors and pays tribute to American educators. It is sponsored by the National Education Association (NEA) and is part of Teacher Appreciation Week. On the day, students, parents, and others give thanks to their teachers, to teachers of their children, and to teachers in their community. Local communities and organizations are encouraged to honor teachers on the day. The day is also used to encourage people to become teachers.
The roots of the day go back to 1944, when Mattie White Woodridge, a teacher from Helena, Arkansas (and later principal at Helena's North End School), began a campaign to start a national day for teachers. She started correspondence with political and education leaders around the United States. At some point, she wrote to Eleanor Roosevelt, who helped take up her cause, and had a hand in convincing Congress to pass a joint resolution to create the day. Additionally, around 1948, a National Teachers Day Committee was formed. It helped introduce the joint resolution for the day to Congress, and in 1950 it asked the governors in all 48 states to enlist the public to push for the day's creation. Eventually, the 81st Congress, which was in office from January 1949 through January 1951, passed the joint resolution that designated the day to take place on the first Tuesday in March.
The NEA and its affiliates in states such as Kansas and Indiana continued to lobby Congress, and a National Teacher Day was declared to be held on March 7, 1980, a Friday. The day then continued to be observed on the first Tuesday of March until 1985, when the NEA Representative Assembly voted to change its observation to the Tuesday of the first full week in May.
How to Observe
Mark the day by thanking all your teachers or a teacher who has been important to you. You could give them a gift or tell them what they mean to you and how they have influenced or inspired you. These could be teachers you have now or teachers you had while you were growing up. You could also ask your children to participate, and you could thank your children's teachers as well. Some other ways you could mark the day include:
- Petition local representatives and officials to issue a proclamation for the day.
- Donate to the NEA Foundation.
- Do your part as a parent to be involved with the education of your children and to foster partnerships with their teachers.
- Volunteer to help at the school your children go to or at a school in your community.
- If you are involved in local government or organizations, see what can be done in order to honor teachers in your community on the day.
- Consider becoming a teacher.