Today begins the national observation of Teacher Appreciation Week.

While teachers aren’t teaching in classrooms due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they are very much in the trenches. They are planning lessons and assignments. They send them to students online or in paper packets to their homes. They hold zoom meetings to chat with students and parents about lessons, life and other important announcements. They answer emails and chats, or even send words of encouragement and praise for completed or not-quite-completed assignments.

Let’s look, however, at the regular school year. Too many times, teachers hear that they get paid too much to have weekends, holidays and summers off. As a sister, cousin and friend to many a teacher, nothing can be further from the truth.

Teachers sit up for hours to plan lessons, grade papers, read essays and enter grades into computer systems. This mostly happens after school while at home with their families. Teachers shop for supplies and decorations using money from their own pockets. Teachers stay after school to help students who just don’t grasp a concept. They might have to stay after school to sit with a student whose behavior got him in trouble, so detention is in order. And while most students and families are enjoying the last weeks of summer, teachers are already in their classrooms decorating bulletin boards, filling desks with textbooks and preparing to meet the students that they will instruct for the academic year.

I am thankful for the teachers who helped me learn and grow over the years. I often share the stories of things they said and did and assignments they gave with my children. Mrs. E, who I had in second and fourth grades, would always tell us students to “use your head for something besides a hat rack,” and Mr. S made math and science so much fun in seventh and eighth grades. I even saved my math notebooks as I went through high school. They helped!

As for my children, I am grateful for those teachers, from preschool on up, who have been inspirations and wonderful instructors for them. My daughter really embraced a love of reading the last year of elementary school with Miss A., and into middle school with Mrs. F. She had fun in middle school Spanish class with Mrs. M. My son got a great start in preschool with (a different) Miss A, and Mrs. K in third grade remained ever encouraging as he plowed his way through math assignments and just striving to get things done.

Take the time to thank a teacher this week. Send a social media shout out, a card or an email. I’m sure it will be much appreciated.

Thank you, teachers!