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Superintendent Woods: Teachers deserve more than our appreciation -- they deserve our respect

May is Teacher Appreciation Month in Georgia. The below message is from State School Superintendent Richard Woods:

Teachers – when I wrote to you last May, I shared that you had exceeded all expectations, reshaping education in the space of a weekend as a global crisis unfolded.

What a joy it is to write to you a year later, knowing you’ve raised the bar yet again.

It has been a strange school year, with masks, distancing, quarantines, and virtual and in-person learning running on parallel tracks. As I’ve traveled to schools throughout the state, I’ve met teachers who had a full roster of in-person students and a second full roster of virtual learners. I’ve seen teachers offering live instruction to a classroom full of students while streaming that instruction to those learning at home. I have watched you harness all of your ingenuity, knowledge, passion, and skill and direct it toward the goal of helping students learn and grow in this unusual environment.

The gift of stability, connection, progress, and hope you’ve given your students this year is no small thing. I know it has been hard. I know you have been asked to create something entirely new. But I hope you’ll see this year not just as a struggle, but as an accomplishment. I am grateful and I am proud of all you have achieved.

Let me also make it clear that I believe we – as a society – owe you more than our words of gratitude. We owe you our tangible support, and our respect for your professional judgment and skill.

That’s why we set aside COVID funding to provide $1,000 retention bonuses for teachers and school staff. That’s why we worked with Governor Kemp to add the Georgia Teacher of the Year as an adviser to the State Board of Education. It is why, to be candid, I have advocated throughout my time as State Superintendent for a move away from over-testing and hyper-accountability – because I trust that you can do your job well, and I believe you’ll have more time to teach children when you’re not weighted down by high-stakes testing requirements.

It is my commitment to you – as State School Superintendent and as someone who spent most of my own career in the classroom – that I will always pair words of appreciation with actions to support teachers and elevate teacher voices.

To my fellow Georgians, I call on you to offer that same respect to our educators – not just during Teacher Appreciation Month, but year-round. They are dedicated, hardworking professionals, and they’re doing incredibly difficult work.

Teachers lift our students up every day – let’s lift them up, too.

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

The Georgia Department of Education is accepting video messages to be shared on our social media accounts throughout Teacher Appreciation Month. Do you have a favorite teacher? Make a 10-second video clip and tell us why they’re special to you. Here are the criteria:
• Make your video in a well-lit, quiet place
• Turn your phone or camera to the horizontal position
• No longer than 10 seconds in length
• Please, no added music or special effects

Upload your 10-second video here.