A Message from Tony Evers WI State Superintendent of Public Instruction

Teacher Appreciation Week is held each year during the first full week of May. It is a special time to recognize the efforts of the women and men who educate our children. Whether it is through a phone call, card, e-mail or other contact, it means a lot to a teacher to hear of the success of a former student or the thanks of a grateful parent.

The work of a teacher is critical to building our future. Some would suggest that education is all that stands between civilization and catastrophe. The common school, educating all children as they come, transmits our American values of honesty, compassion, and hard work along with the academic knowledge and skills that prepare young people to become the leaders, thinkers, and innovators who will propel our society further. The task of educating tomorrow's citizens is both rewarding and demanding. In Wisconsin, it's been made more difficult by a political atmosphere that nourishes envy rather than cultivating unity. We can heal our state by uniting on the importance of educating our children and supporting our public schools.

The most important factor in a student's educational success is the quality of the teacher in the classroom. We want our children to have teachers who are well trained and enthusiastic about their work. In the countries that do best on international measures of educational success, teachers are held in high esteem. That respect is part of a cultural foundation of valuing children and their education. When U.S. Education Secretary Arne Duncan toured Wisconsin recently, he called for elevating the teaching profession. I agree.

The efforts of a teacher can change the life of a child. Without the dedicated teachers I had in school in Plymouth, Wisconsin, I would not be where I am today. They encouraged me. They pushed me. They helped light the fire for service to education that drives me every day.

During this year's May 7 to 11 Teacher Appreciation Week observance, I'd like to thank my teachers, indeed, all teachers. I value education and the work of Wisconsin's teachers. I encourage all citizens to commit to the importance of education and extend a "thank you" to a teacher who has made a difference in your life.

Tony Evers is the elected state superintendent of public instruction.

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