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A grid of photos featuring six teachers being celebrated for Teacher Appreciation Week.

From left to right (top) Timothy Dailey, Kelechi Anyago, Morgan Dezsi, (bottom) Renelle Hopkins, Kathryn Van Mater, Jessica Walters.

Courtesy photos

Teacher Appreciation Week: Chalkbeat readers salute educators who went above and beyond

Teacher Appreciation Week is a celebration of educators. But after more than a year of disrupted learning due to the coronavirus, a week of festivities feels both needed and insufficient in 2021.

If the pandemic made one thing clear, it’s that educators are more than just teachers at the front of classrooms. They are counselors and helpers. They are healers and advocates. They are artists and leaders. And for some students and families, they are the glue that holds their lives together.

So how do you say, “thank you” to the people who filled these roles and so many more during a school year filled with chaos and challenges? We asked our readers.

This is what you had to say about the teachers who helped so many students and families navigate a pandemic, remote learning, and more this past school year.

Teachers who helped outside of the classroom

Teacher Appreciation Week - Kathryn Van Mater

Kathryn Van Mater

Provided photo

Kathryn Van Mater

English, grades 9-10

Cheatham County Central High School | Ashland City, Tennessee

“Kathryn has taught for six years – all at CCCHS. She was named the Cheatham County School District’s 2020-2021 High School Teacher of the Year. At CCCHS, she is the student council sponsor and coordinates football homecoming. This year, Kathryn did an excellent job serving as the high school committee chairman for the district’s COVID-19 reopening plan. She has done an incredible job this year, working with both in-person and virtual students, and we are very fortunate to have her as part of our team.”
-Dr. Cathy Beck, Cheatham County Director of Schools
Teacher Appreciation Week - Morgan Dezsi

Morgan Dezsi

Provided photo

Morgan Dezsi

Science, eighth grade

South Vermillion Middle School | Clinton, Indiana

“Morgan is one of those rare teachers who cares more about the students than the subject she teaches. She incorporates fun projects into her curriculum to make learning more fun and tangible for all her students. She spends countless hours making sure they have what they need — whether it’s personal items for the young girls in her room, food for hungry kids, or lessons on Canvas.”
-Angel Spangler, colleague
Teacher Appreciation Week - Cathy Gohman

Cathy Gohman

English, grades 10-12

Southwood Jr./Sr. High School | Wabash, Indiana

“Cathy goes above and beyond for students, parents, administrators, and her fellow teachers. At the beginning of the school year, I was on [family/medical] leave, and Cathy taught her full load of classes and filled in as English department chair while I was gone. She also mentored three of our younger teachers, was the English 12 virtual teacher for our corporation, taught Edmentum classes for students on the credit-recovery program, and serves as our high school’s representative at discussion meetings.”
- Michelle Sparling, colleague
Teacher Appreciation Week - Jessica Walters

Jessica Walters

Provided photo

Jessica Walters

Fourth grade

PS 243 - The Weeksville School | New York City

“Ms. Walters has been a teacher mentor, a teacher leader for District 16, a school model for classroom intervisitation, and more. Her effervescent personality, passion, tenacity, and innovation are recognized by our students, staff, and visitors to the building. Ms. Walters’ accomplishments and contributions to the Weeksville School reflect all the qualities of a true educator. She is a member of our literacy culture team and worked alongside her peers to revamp our school library. She redesigned the Weeksville School logo to better reflect our school community. When COVID-19 hit, she, along with her co-teacher, developed a comprehensive informational presentation to help parents and students transition to remote learning. The rapport she has built with students, parents, and staff reverberates through the Weeksville community.”
-Karen Hambright-Glover, principal

Teachers who couldn’t be stopped by the pandemic

Teacher Appreciation Week - Kristen Bates-Scott

Kristen Bates-Scott

Provided photo

Kristen Bates-Scott


George Washington Carver Montessori School 87 | Indianapolis

“She made Montessori learning possible during a pandemic.”
-Parent of student
Teacher Appreciation Week - Patrick Farley

Patrick Farley

Physical education, grades 7-12

Science Park High School | Newark, New Jersey

“Mr. Farley encourages students and colleagues to stay healthy (physically and mentally) and informed during the pandemic. He goes the extra mile [to make] sure his community is the best it can be.”
-Ashley Lourenco, student
Teacher Appreciation Week - Alberto Morales

Alberto Morales

English, ninth grade

Casco Bay High School | Portland, Maine

“Alberto is always giving of himself and his time and responds with incredible empathy to students, meeting them where they’re at and helping to bring them to their next level of learning. And on top of all that, he brought a teaching intern under his mentor wing for this entire pandemic year!”
-Lacey Lee, teaching intern

Teachers who went the extra mile for students and parents

Timothy Dailey

Timothy Dailey

Provided photo

Timothy Dailey

Music and band, grades 9-12

Horizon High School | Thornton, Colorado

“Mr. Dailey has gone above and beyond to provide marching, concert, and competition experiences for his students during this strangest of school years. He has found ways to build a community with his students whether they were in person, remote, quarantined, or any other combination of situations. He has been extremely patient, kind, and understanding while at the same time not lowering his expectations for each student to reach their full potential as a musician. Thank you for being an incredible teacher!”
-Kim Flanagan, parent of student
Alexandra Hernandez

Alexandra Hernandez

Provided photo

Alexandra Hernandez

Bilingual special education, grades 3-5

PS 257 - John F. Hylan School | New York City

“Ms. Hernandez has high expectations for all her students. She refers to her students as ‘my babies’ and values them as individuals and the strengths they bring to the classroom. She creates a welcoming classroom environment where they feel respected, loved, and safe.”
-Cynthia Felix Jeffers, colleague
Teacher Appreciation Week - Lorena Sanchez

Lorena Sanchez

Second grade

Rose Hill Elementary School | Kirkland, Washington

“There truly are no words to express our appreciation for Ms. Sanchez. During an unprecedented year, she was a bright light in our family’s home via Zoom each day. She is an amazing teacher and human being. We are so fortunate to have had her as our son’s second grade teacher.”
-Meghan Griffin, parent of a student
Teacher Appreciation Week - Romeo Ortiz

Romeo Ortiz

Special education, pre-school

JFTN Preschool - League Center | New York City

“Mr. Romeo is a truly passionate and dedicated teacher who strives to help all of his pre-school students with developmental disabilities meet their goals across all domains. He goes above and beyond, not only working with families and providers to ensure students’ success but also to help them become independent learners.”
-Diana Botet, parent of a student
Teacher Appreciation Week - Kelsey Erf

Kelsey Erf

ELA-E, first grade

Valverde Elementary School | Denver

“Each and every student in Mrs. Erf’s classroom knows without a doubt that they are part of their class family. Mrs. Erf has created a classroom that speaks to emotional safety for all students whether through daily commitments, affirmations, or highlighting mistakes we make as simply an ‘OoPS’ (Opportunity to Problem Solve). Every one of Mrs. Erf’s students shows up with compassion and conviction, just as their teacher does.”
-Hanna Franzblau, parent of a student
Renelle Hopkins

Renelle Hopkins

Provided photo

Renelle Hopkins

First grade

Anna B. Day School | Philadelphia

“Mrs. Hopkins works day and night planning rigorous and joyful lessons for her first graders. She has incredibly high expectations for all her students and cultivates strong personal relationships with each student to maintain a positive, trusting classroom community.”
-Emily Powell, colleague

Don’t forget to follow Chalkbeat on social media. We’ll be celebrating even more teachers for Teacher Appreciation Week 2021 on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.