The teachers in Bartow County couldn’t help but feel really loved last week.
During Teacher Appreciation Week, students, parents, administrators and school board members found a number of ways to show educators in the Bartow County and Cartersville City school systems how valuable they are.
From messages on Facebook to free car washes to gifts delivered to their front door, the county’s teachers were recognized for the work they’ve done during a school year like no one has ever experienced before.
“The teaching profession is quite possibly one of the more influential careers in our society,” Cartersville Superintendent Dr. Marc Feuerbach said. “A teacher has the opportunity to impact the hearts and minds of hundreds or maybe thousands of students during his or her career.
“At Cartersville City Schools, we celebrate Teacher Appreciation Week because we want our educators to know how much we truly appreciate the passion, care and skill they bring to the classroom every day, providing our students not only academic lessons but an effective learning environment where they can grow.”
“This is a purposeful time for all of us to take a moment to thank our teachers for the selfless work they put in to make our students better in all areas,” Bartow Superintendent Dr. Phillip Page said.
Both superintendents bragged on what a great job their teachers have done during a school year in which they had to switch almost overnight to digital learning for the last two months due to the coronavirus closures in March.
“While I am overwhelmingly proud of the flexibility, dedication and creativity our teachers have shown since schools closed, I am not surprised,” Feuerbach said of his 282 teachers. “Our teachers were asked to completely adjust the way they deliver content and the way they connect with students and, virtually overnight, they responded with professionalism and adeptness. I am truly grateful to work alongside such an amazing group of educators.”
Page said the county’s 918 teachers have been amazing during this strange and unprecedented year.
“They’ve done a tremendous job, and they’ve certainly been an inspiration to me, seeing how their role has evolved in the last two months,” he said. “Not only has it shown their incredible resilience but their commitment to do the right work for their students and each other.”
In Cartersville, each school planned something special for its teachers.
The primary school did a drive-thru where teachers picked up Canes visors and gift certificates to Chicken Salad Chick and also announced its Teacher of the Year, second-grade teacher Kristen Kearney.
The elementary school sponsored a tropical-themed drive-thru “where teachers drove through the car-rider circle to pick up their gift,” which included a Canes beach towel and other various gifts like candy, Feuerbach said.
“Everyone was dressed in their beach gear, and beach-themed music was playing,” he said.
The school also honored its retiring teachers as well as its new Teacher of the Year, Emma James, a fourth-grade special education inclusion teacher.
The teachers at the high school each received a gift certificate to a local restaurant.
The administration team at the middle school dropped off a quarantine basket at each staff member's door step.
According to a Facebook post, the baskets contained:
— A Canes hat: All those Zoom calls, and did we mention barbers and salons have been closed?
— Advil: Screen time can give you a headache!
— Tissues: For crying when missing your students.
— Lotion: Handwashing takes its toll.
— K-Cups: Coffee helps you get through quarantine!
— Chocolate bars: Well, we all know that chocolate needs no explanation!
“Thank you,” sixth-grade science teacher Ginger Busek posted. “It was such a sweet surprise at my door!”
“So sweet,” posted English for Speakers of Other Languages teacher Felicia Guffey. “Thank you for thinking of us!”
Most of the school board members posted messages on Facebook to express their gratitude for the work teachers do and the dedication they show to their students.
“Educators are the foundation of our society in so many ways,” board member Tim Chason wrote. “They are positive role models for our young people, innovators of new ideas and believers of opportunities. Teachers are on the front line daily. They have broad shoulders and huge hearts. And most importantly, they make it personal with each student who walks through their door.”
Board President Kelley Dial said in her post that she would “venture to say there has never been a Teacher Appreciation Week when teachers have been appreciated as much as they are during this season of uncharted waters, divergent solutions and trailblazing delivery of learning.”
“The teachers of the Cartersville City Schools habitually uphold our tradition of excellence and make personal commitments to all our students,” she wrote. “The last few weeks have only magnified that commitment.”
In Bartow County, each school had a “unique plan in place to honor its teachers” during their special week, Page said.
“Some mailed handwritten cards and gift cards; others delivered personalized yard signs or made ‘Stronger Together’ T-shirts,” he said. “One high school even held a car wash for its teachers.”
The Adairsville High educators were the lucky recipients of the clean cars, courtesy of the administration team led by Principal Bruce Mulkey.
Mission Road Elementary Principal Sherrie Hughes and Assistant Principal Kim Wynn made surprise special deliveries of yard signs and gourmet cupcakes to their teachers’ homes.
The central office staff also posted “We appreciate our Bartow County teachers!” on the school system’s billboard on Joe Frank Harris Parkway near Cartersville Medical Center.
Facebook also had comments from parents and students about their favorite teachers.
Cloverleaf Elementary third-grader Blakeston Warner wrote his teacher, Kendall Payne, is “cooler than cool whip.”
Dana Hornbuckle posted her Cate loved having “three amazing teachers this year.”
“So sad we didn’t get a whole year with April West, Jane Oliver and Cindi Hickom Gravely,” she wrote. “Euharlee [Elementary School] had a great fourth-grade team this year!”