"Been homeschooling a 6-year old and 8-year old for one hour and 11 minutes. Teachers deserve to make a billion dollars a year. Or a week."—Shonda Rhimes (@shondarhimes), March 16, 2020
Teacher Appreciation Week arrives this coming week, from May 3 (Teacher Appreciation Day) through May 7, as the end of the first full school year of the Covid-19 era in our sights sparks a mix of bittersweet memories, sighs of relief and the joy of impending celebrations. Cheers will go up for graduates. Accolades will be awarded to student-athletes. Some parents will simply be raising a glass to the fact that nights spent trying to relearn third-grade math will be a thing of the past. And we will all celebrate our teachers.
Long Island's top teachers inspire our students and communities, and they are the inspiration for the inaugural Herald Head of the Class Awards, presented by Bank of America and produced by RichnerLIVE, a division of Richner Communications Inc., publishers of Herald Community Newspapers.
The Herald Head of the Class Awards program was created this year to honor outstanding K–12 education leaders in public, private and charter schools throughout Nassau County, based on nominations received from the public—students, teachers, families, administrators and community members—at HeadOfTheClassAwards.com
through May 15. Once the polls close, the 2021 Herald Head of the Class Advisory Committee, made up of multiple stakeholders from across the Long Island education landscape, will review all nominations, and a winner and 10 finalists will be honored in each of three categories—Top Elementary School Teacher, Top Middle School Teacher, Top High School Teacher—at a live virtual event on June 16.
"Teachers play a critical role in the development and advancement of our students and deserve recognition for their incredible contributions," said Bob Isaksen, Bank of America Long Island president. "That's why Bank of America is pleased to support the Long Island Herald in recognizing Long Island's top educators with the inaugural Herald Head of the Class Awards. Bank of America has long supported programs that advance students to and through school, as well as up-skilling for their careers post-education."
Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, we've witnessed firsthand how teachers have met countless new challenges—while helping students and parents do the same—and the nominations already submitted for the Herald Head of the Class Awards are a testament to their impact. As part of each nomination, people are asked to share reasons why they believe a particular teacher is deserving. It could be an honor bestowed upon them or their students, a new program they brought to their school or a unique way in which they reached out during remote learning. Whether it is a classroom teacher or a physical education teacher, the arts or Advanced Placement Physics, a peek at some of the nominations reveals just how much innovation and inspiration is out there among our educators:
One nominee "builds an atmosphere in which all of the students are accepted and encouraged to not only become more educated, but better people in the process." Another "started a lunch group to have the remote students socialize so they felt more connected to the classroom and experienced a more normal school year." Still one more became "a go-to person for troubleshooting issues when families had difficulty logging on or connecting to district programs.
"Long Island's top educators motivate students in countless ways and create atmospheres of understanding, compassion and curiosity," said Richner Communications President Stuart Richner. "The most influential teachers go above and beyond."