A letter to educators this Teacher Appreciation Week

Over the years, you’ve taught me the importance of staying grounded in the reality of what is, while also looking towards the hope of what can be. You’ve reminded me that every day may not be good, but there’s something good in every day. And you’ve shown me the importance of tucking away those good things and carrying them in my heart.

As this year’s National Teacher of the Year, I look forward to the opportunity to learn not only from the teachers across my state, but also from teachers across the country. I’ve traveled all over my state of Oklahoma, listening to teachers’ stories. My goal has been to create a space to elevate their voices and journeys. But true to teacher form, they taught me more this year than I could ever give back.

For instance, Courtney from Pauls Valley reminded me of the importance of celebrating student success with families. Every month, she and her colleagues write postcards to at least two families to share good news from school.

Pam from Warner inspired me to keep fostering a growth mindset. I’ll never forget Pam’s response when one of her fourth graders proudly marched up to the whiteboard and incorrectly solved a problem, which was “Thank you for making a mistake so we can all learn.”

And then there’s Loren from Okemah, a rural town where most students are on free or reduced lunch. Loren and her colleagues often buy snacks to ensure their students stay regulated throughout the day.