President’s Message: What We Really Want for Educator Appreciation Week

Dear Educator, 

At the PPS School Board meeting on April 19, the board passed its resolution to recognize Teacher and Administrator Appreciation Week, May 2-6, 2022. The board invited me to give remarks, which you can read below: 

Good Evening Chair DePass, Vice Chair Scott, Student Rep Weingard, Deputy Superintendent Hertz, and members of the Board,

Thank you for taking the time this evening to reflect on and appreciate the incredible value of our professional educators in Portland Public Schools. 

As a PPS parent myself, I could not be more grateful to the educators at Vernon and McDaniel who have had such a deep impact on my own children, teaching them not just knowledge and skills, but also, how to be in community, how to create positive change, and how to pursue what you love, embrace what makes you unique, and support others to do the same.

As the President of the Portland Association of Teachers, I have the incredible honor of representing more than 4,000 educators in PPS, some of the most dedicated and community-minded workers in our society. Every educator I know chose this profession because of a profound belief in the promise of our youth, a passion for learning, and a steadfast commitment to building a more just and equitable society.

This passion and commitment is on display every single day, in every school, in countless interactions with students. 

As you all know, these last two years have been an incredibly challenging time for our profession. Educators have had to redesign their practices over and over, and have been there at every step to support students facing unprecedented struggles and challenges. 

Despite the uncertainty in our society, educators do more than seems possible to make each day joyful, responsive, and productive, for every student that comes through their door.

And this year, even educators with 10, 20, 30 years of experience have faced challenges beyond what they have ever seen. I think we can all agree that what schools provided before the pandemic is not adequate to meet the needs of today.

Knowing that, teachers across the District ask themselves every day: What do these students need now? What is most important? How can I provide it for them?

Just so, as a district, we need to ask: What do our students need now? And what do educators need to provide it for them? 

As we reflect on the value of our professional educators, please know that the things that educators need to feel appreciated are the same things that inspired us to become educators in the first place: 

First, educators want the teaching and learning conditions that honor the role that public education plays in our society and in our students' lives. This includes clean and safe school buildings and classrooms. (Thank you to our custodians. We need more of them, and we need to pay them a fair wage). And it includes support for our students in the building, including whole-child enrichments, and more Special Education and ELL staff. 

Second, educators want to the be provided the tools we need to meet the needs of our students, including time in the workday to plan, collaborate, and communicate with families, and smaller class sizes and caseload so we can give each student the attention they deserve

Finally, educators ask to be treated as the professionals we are, and to be listened to all year long

In Solidarity,

Elizabeth Thiel

PAT President