Is Solon High School’s Teacher Appreciation Week doing enough?

Send your teachers a card for Teacher Appreciation Week to show your gratitude.

Send your teachers a card for Teacher Appreciation Week to show your gratitude.

Grainne Crawmer, Staff Writer

According to a study done by Annenberg Institute at Brown University, across the nation, there are at least 36,000 vacant teaching positions and at least 163,000 positions being held by underqualified teachers.

There’s been a shortage of teachers ever since the pandemic.

The shortage is a problem for so many reasons. Teachers are responsible for so much—helping students thrive academically, emotionally and in many other ways. Nine months out of the year, teachers spend five days a week, if not more, with their students. Teachers are essential workers because they are vital for children’s growth.

This year’s Teacher Appreciation Week will take place from Monday, May 8-Friday, May 12. So what are Solon School Districts doing to appreciate their hard-working teachers?

Kirsten Ahrens, Solon High School’s anatomy teacher, does a lot of work on Parkside Elementary’s Teacher Appreciation Committee and says they do a lot for the elementary school, not just exclusive to teacher appreciation week—they do something every month.

“We make a banner, we decorate their staff area, and then they get a little treat or something little for that month,” Ahrens said. “And then for teacher appreciation week, we do something every day for them. So, like we have the special things planned out, we decorate for them, so the whole school will be decorated.”

At the high school, however, Ahrens said that this year, on Tuesday, May 9, the administration is giving the teachers a special breakfast and a special lunch on Thursday, May 11. Obviously, these efforts are appreciated, but other schools in the Solons district, like Parkside, are getting more effort.

There are some clear differences here. Why is it that the elementary school teachers get so much compared to the high school teachers?

Ahrens wants to be clear– the teachers at the high school are still very thankful and grateful for their jobs. Getting gifts and surprises every month would be nice, but that’s not why the staff chose their job. Ahrens says that she teaches because she loves her students.

Ahrens also said that she does appreciate everything the Parent Teacher Association (PTA) does for the staff and that they do a lot. Because Ahrens works on Parkside Elementary’s Teacher Appreciation Committee, she simply has a lot of ideas on how the high school could improve theirs. The committee does things for the teachers all year round like decorate teachers’ rooms and the school, give them special food, and give them little gifts like plants. She loves working on the committee and says it’s a lot of fun for everyone.

“But it does sometimes feel that we’re not as appreciated, even though I know we are,” Ahrens said. “I see what goes on at the elementary schools, and I wish that it could be brought up a little more here. I don’t think it would make me work harder, but at least bring a little happiness to my day.”

However, Solon High School’s Principal, Erin Short, says that Solon High School’s PTA does a lot for the staff. Like this year, there will be a continental breakfast, a big cookout, a raffle of auction tickets and a big prize.

The high school also does a teacher appreciation lunch to feed the teachers every quarter, and around the holidays, the PTA holds a cookie buffet. Short says that throughout the school year, the PTA probably hosts around five or six events all about teacher appreciation.

Short does recognize that the elementary schools do slightly more for their teachers than the high school, like hosting those monthly events and going all out for decorations on Teacher’s Appreciation Week. However, this is due to the fact that the elementary schools have a lot less staff.

“A big difference is that those elementary buildings have 25 teachers- we have 130,“ Short said. “The volume of our staff makes it much more difficult, I think, to plan things… Again, the difficult thing is when we do those, I invite everybody, not just teachers, so when we do those meals, we have to have food to feed 175 people, very different than an elementary, they have food to feed 40.”

Short says that it’s really a time and volume issue—there’s only one of her and 175 staff members—but she wants to reiterate that they still appreciate all of their staff very much.

“We very much appreciate every staff member,” Short says. “Whether it’s teachers, custodians, bus drivers, we appreciate cafeteria workers, everybody, all of our aids who help us run this building every day. We appreciate them very, very much.”

While I hear and respect Short’s opinion on this, it’s clear that some teachers do not feel appreciated at Solon High School. With everything that administration does for the staff, what else can be done to show the teachers how much we appreciate them? I think the best action that can be taken is by the students. As a student at Solon High School, I can say that many students don’t think twice about their teachers. Whether it’s voting for your teacher for a Shining Star or just letting them know with your words how grateful you are, students need to take the initiative to let their teachers see their appreciation.