Like everything else, Teacher Appreciation Week will look a little different this year.
Traditionally, teachers and other school staff receive visits from administrators, goodies on their desks and an all-around pat on the back for the work they do all year long during the week. But COVID-19 has closed schools around Albany, and the state requires that classrooms be empty, desks stay bare and people refrain from coming close enough to administer a pat to the back.
This year, teachers will get their thanks the same way students are receiving lessons: online.
Principals and Greater Albany Public Schools leadership compiled a thank you video for the district's website, and students have joined in as well.
At Albany Options School, students filmed messages on their phones and compiled them into a video for teachers.
"I would like to thank you guys for helping me each step of the way to graduate early and to achieve my goal," said recent graduate Austin Smith.
Hannah George also filed a message to AOS teachers, saying, "I miss you very much and happy Teacher Appreciation Week. I'm thankful for all you do. AOS wouldn't be the same without you."
Since March, teachers around the state have had to grapple with how to teach students they can't see and shift to online forums. In April, all districts implemented distance learning that could range from strictly online courses to prerecorded lectures or workbooks sent to students with follow-up phone calls.
"Teachers, in particular, you have literally flipped your teaching models to meet the needs of all students when you do not get to see them in person," GAPS Superintendent Melissa Goff wrote in a message to teachers. "The dynamics change dramatically (for online learning), particularly in the ability to connect and provide social, emotional and mental health support to students. And, yet, you are committed to accomplishing exactly that and you are achieving it through offering grace and empathy to students, their families, and each other."
According to GAPS spokesperson Andrew Tomsky, individual principals also reached out to staff and shared thank you videos on various social media pages.
"Public education relies upon each of you and what you contribute for our students, whether in person or from a distance," Goff said. "I am deeply grateful to see GAPS teachers leading the way in this work. Thank you."
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