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Teacher Day

You probably know about Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and Secretary’s Day. But what do you know about Teacher Day? I’ll give you a hint - it’s a day on which we acknowledge the good work of the teachers in this country, and in 2006, there were nearly 4 million of them, Keep reading for the background on how people celebrate the teaching profession.

Teacher Day in the USA

The origins of our National Teacher Day are shrouded in mystery. It is know that the inspiration for the celebration seems to have come from Mattye Whyte Woodridge, an Arkansas teacher who - in about 1944 - began a letter-writing campaign to encourage a national celebration of teachers. Woodridge wrote to politicians and education leaders, including Eleanor Roosevelt, who - in 1953 - persuaded Congress to issue a proclamation for a National Teacher Day.

But that was just one day. The National Education Association (NEA), along with affiliates in the states of Kansas and Indiana took up the cause again, and, again, Congress responded, declaring March 7, 1980 as National Teacher Day.

But still, that was just one day. Despite the fact that there was no national recognition, NEA, along with its affiliates, continued to celebrate National Teacher Day on the first Tuesday of March in 1981, 1982, 1983, and 1984.

And then, in 1985, the National Parent Teacher Association (PTA) set aside the first full week in the month of May as an annual Teacher Appreciation Week. In keeping with that, the NEA changed its observance of National Teacher Day to the Tuesday of that week.

In the meantime, at least one state didn’t wait: Beginning in 1976, the State of Massachusetts instituted an annual celebration of its own Teacher’s Day on September 11. Today, Massachusetts celebrates the first Sunday of June - about halfway between Mother’s Day and Father’s Day - as Teachers’ Day.

Many children may bring their teacher a gift or a thank you card on Teacher Day. These tokens help acknowledge the debt that individuals and society owe to educators in shaping lives and our country.

World Teacher’s Day

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), in 1994, designated October 4 as World Teachers’ Day. And this is a celebration that NEA participates in, as well. World Teacher’s Day is celebrated in a variety of ways. These have included ceremonies, concerts, competitions, websites with “thank-you” cards that can be downloaded, awards, receptions, and with cultural and athletic events. But an NEA poll in 2007 found that nearly half of teachers surveyed said that all they need is a “thank you.”

Beyond the National Teacher Day in the US and World Teacher’s Day, there are a number of individual celebrations of Teacher’s Day in various countries around the world. In fact, nearly every month has a day explicitly dedicated to teachers of some country. May, June and September are the most popular months.

In some countries, teacher appreciation is expressed on a day with a different name. For example, in Bulgaria, teachers are honored on “Education Day.” Also, in some countries, there is a particular event that has prompted the choice of date.

For example, in Bolivia, Dia del Maestro is celebrated on June 6, which is that birthday of a famous Bolivian educator, Modesto Omiste Tinajeros. In Brazil, the national Teacher’s Day is celebrated each year on October 15, the day in 1527 when Emperor Pedro I signed into law a mandate that created schools for the lower classes. In Taiwan, the Republic of China’s Teacher Appreciation Day is celebrated on September 28, because this is the birthday of the noted philosopher, Confucius.


NEA: National Teacher Day

PTA: Teacher Appreciation Week

Teacher Appreciation:

Bureau of Labor and Statistics