SUSD Teachers Appreciated This Week Every Year, But Especially This School Year

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (May 7, 2021) – Decorated classroom doors. Gift cards. Elbow bumps. And flowers – lots of flowers. Those are just some of the ways in which Scottsdale Unified School District’s nearly 1,300 certified educators have been celebrated this week, Teacher Appreciation Week, May 2 – 8.

“During the most challenging year that most of us in public education have ever had to navigate, our teachers responded with amazing resolve, professionalism and courage,” says Dr. Scott Menzel, Scottsdale Unified School District (SUSD) Superintendent. “I hope our entire community has been able to take a moment this week to thank a teacher and acknowledge the extraordinary efforts undertaken this school year to meet the needs of our students who have been learning both in-person and online.”

Governing Board President Jann-Michael Greenburg, a graduate of SUSD’s Arcadia High School, attributes much of his success to amazing teachers he had as an SUSD student, many of whom can still be found in District classrooms. “We are truly blessed to have such dedicated, passionate teachers who impact the lives of thousands of students each year for the better, and while this week might be Teacher Appreciation Week, I believe I speak for everyone when I say that every week is Teacher Appreciation Week when you have the teachers SUSD has.” 

Vice President Julie Cieniawski, who herself came to the Governing Board from the ranks of District educators, believes every bit of praise and recognition teachers have received this week is well-deserved. “Throughout this past year, they have proven they can pivot not just once or twice, but as many times as necessary to include and engage every student in meaningful lessons. They perform magic every day, whether in a classroom or over the Internet.”

The ability to adjust to changing circumstances brought on by the coronavirus pandemic has been a hallmark of not only this school year, but the conclusion of the previous one, as well, according to Redfield Elementary School Principal Christine Bonow. The word ‘pivot,’ she says, has a whole new, pandemic-related meaning when it comes to teachers, who have consistently gone above and beyond on behalf of their students. “At the drop of a hat, they have demonstrated their resiliency, resourcefulness and commitment to our students by learning and embracing new ways to ensure our students’ learning continued in the midst of crisis.”

The president of the Scottsdale Education Association, Becky Williams, says this year’s Teacher Appreciation Week is a timely and welcome celebration of the profession. “Our teachers have stretched well beyond their imagined capacity to ensure this school year is the best it can be for our students. Teachers have continued to do what it takes to reach our students and do our best to meet their needs.” Williams, who teaches in Mohave Middle School’s Dual Language Immersion program, says she is humbled daily by the incredible accomplishments she sees by her classroom colleagues.

The efforts of teachers, pandemic or not, are not lost on students. Caroline Carter, who is a member of SUSD’s Class of 2021 and chairs the District’s Student Advisory Board, is grateful for the support she has received from her high school teachers. “Thanks to Chaparral High School’s teachers and staff, I feel extremely prepared for my future educational endeavors in college next year. In particular, my junior year AP Language teacher, Ms. Herring, had the most impact on me. She challenged me with difficult writing prompts and pieces of literature that, in turn, further improved my writing skills and allowed me to develop a new approach to analyzing various writing styles.”

Parents, too, have been struck by the depth of commitment shown by SUSD teachers, particularly this school year. Scottsdale Parent Council President Emmie Cardella says the insights teachers provide into her three SUSD students have made for a valuable partnership. “Having these trusted adults in their lives to learn from and look up to is a key part of their development. Particularly in this challenging school year, the work ethic and compassion they have modelled for our kids will have lasting impact.”

Indeed, the work of classroom teachers nationwide this school year has resulted in the delivery of not only the necessary academic connections to allow students to continue to grow and excel in their learning, but also much-needed social and emotional connections for students, their families and school communities as a whole.

“While the education world has been challenged in the past 16 months like never before, none of what Scottsdale Unified has collectively been able to accomplish during this 2020-2021 school year would have been even remotely possible without our 1,286 deeply dedicated and impassioned educators,” says Superintendent Menzel. “They are the heroes of this story.”

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