Teacher Appreciation Month 2020—In Circumstances We Wouldn’t have Chosen, Teachers Rose Above

by State School Superintendent Richard Woods

It is never difficult to write a letter for Teacher Appreciation Month.

Teachers, you are easy to celebrate. While I miss being in the classroom and seeing the work of my colleagues day in and day out, each year I spend as State School Superintendent I see countless examples of your ingenuity, skill, and love for your students.

But teachers, this year, you rewrote the playbook. You exceeded all expectations.

We asked so much of you this year—and none of us could have imagined, when the school year began, that it would end this way. You had to make a quick transition to a brand-new type of learning. You had to continue to connect with your students—who were, to a child, dealing with the impact of a global crisis—without seeing them face-to-face. You were asked to do this while taking care of your own children, keeping an elderly parent safe, or otherwise dealing with the unique demands and challenges of this time.

And you made it happen. At the state level, we have worked to support you and provide the resources you need – but you are the ones who made this transition work.

I know, to be very frank, that this situation has not been fair and it has certainly not been easy. I wish we could have avoided it. I wish you were in the classroom with your students right now. I wish our high school teachers were getting ready to celebrate in-person with their graduates.

But in circumstances none of us would have chosen, you rose above. You came up with creative ways to deliver content, but more importantly, you came up with creative ways to make sure your students know they are loved, seen, and valued.

Our whole state—our whole nation—has seen you show up for your students. They have seen you hosting video calls. They have seen you in driveways, teaching lessons from a safe social distance. They have seen you checking on your students, making sure they are fed and safe and secure. They have seen your patience, your inventiveness, and your passion.

When we come back together in the classroom, we will be dealing with something new together: a collective grief that touches every student, teacher, and staff member in the building. While it will be extremely important to identify and remediate academic gaps, our first priority should be to create a space where students can heal together.

I cannot think of a better group of people to guide our students—and, by extension our communities—through that process.

Thank you, Georgia teachers. In an uncertain time, I am certain of this: you are the very best of our state.

A special note to the other teachers of this time—Georgia’s parents

Parents, it is always true that you are your child’s first teacher – and the most important teacher throughout their lifetime. But I think we’d all agree that’s been even more true the last five weeks.

Thank you for stepping up, with very little notice, to support your child’s education in a whole new way. Thank you for the grace and patience you have shown to those of us in education as we have navigated this new landscape.

As I shared with teachers, I know it has not been easy, and I wish it had not been necessary. But in this time of trial, we have come together. I thank you from the bottom of my heart for all you’ve done during this time of distance learning.

Request for Georgians: Submit videos to honor the teachers in your life

As we enter an unusual Teacher Appreciation Month, I am asking that all Georgians who have been touched by the contributions of a teacher during this time of distance learning – whether you are a student, parent, or community member—join us in saying “thank you.”

Please consider recording a short video (20 – 30 seconds) thanking your teachers personally for their efforts during distance learning.

How to record and submit your video

  1. Recommended recording devices: We recommend that you record your video on a laptop or desktop computer that is connected to a wired internet connection, using the webcam, for the fastest file upload. If you must record on your cell phone, please record in the horizontal position. Please note that data usage rates may apply. If available, connect your cell phone to a Wi-Fi connection before uploading your video.
  2. We need to see you: Ensure that you and your child are well lit. An exterior window is an ideal source for soft, natural light. Consider moving your laptop or take your cell phone to one. Use a desk lamp at your desktop computer.
  3. We need to hear you: Ensure that you record in a quiet location so we can hear you well.
  4. Upload your video: Record and upload your video. Depending on your connection, it may take several minutes to upload.

Recommended software

  • For computers running Microsoft Windows, we recommend the “Camera” app. Watch a brief tutorial.
  • For Apple computers, we recommend Photo Booth, which comes with all Macintosh computers and includes a video recording feature. Watch a brief tutorial.
  • For cell phones, use your phone’s video recording application. Please ensure you record holding your phone horizontally.

How We’ll Share

Your video may be edited together with other videos made by students, parents, and others who support our state’s teachers. They will be shared throughout May on the Georgia Department of Education’s YouTube channel, Facebook page, and Twitter feed. Be sure to like and share.


Meghan Frick
Director of Communications
GaDOE Communications Office
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