“Every teacher gets an apple, but everyone deserves a hug.”
During Thomas Jefferson Elementary’s celebration of American Education Week, this quote refers not to the warm embrace, but instead to the sweeter variety — a Hershey’s Hug.
American Education Week, which was first celebrated in 1921 as an initiative sponsored by the National Education Agency and the American Legion, serves as a “national effort to raise public awareness of the importance of education,” according to the NEA’s website.
“The goal is to promote public education in a positive light, and really bring it to the forefront” said Barbara Hackworth, TJ special education teacher and Newton Community Education Association president. “A lot of times we’ve turned it into kids thanking those who play a role in their education.”
This is where the chocolate comes into play: Kindergarten teacher Megan McLennan came up with the tasty play on words as a way for students to personally thank those within their school as well as in the community who have influenced them for this year’s AEW activity.
“We made a little tag that says ‘Thank you for all you do!’ and had all the kids write their names on them, attached a Hug and then they got to go deliver them themselves,” McLennan explained.
“Some gave them to other teachers, some took them home to thank their parents for helping them with homework, and some even gave them to Denny (Klingensmith, head custodian) for keeping our school clean and our cooks for making them lunch,” she added.
TJ students weren’t alone in thanking those who have influenced them academically — other schools around Newton participated in AEW as well, each in a different way. Students at Berg Elementary also played to parents and school staff’s sweet tooth with rolls of Lifesavers candies, inscribed with ‘You are a lifesaver! Thanks for your dedication to kids!’
Woodrow Wilson students brushed up on their computer skills by creating computer-generated thank you cards for teachers and staff members, while those at Berg Middle School wrote positive comments and stories about educational experiences they’ve had, which were then read during morning announcements.
“So many people haven’t heard of (AEW),” Hackworth said. “It’s our chance to let students say thank you, but also to let people in the community know if there’s something they’d like to get involved with in our schools, there are so many opportunities.”