American Education Week (AEW) began in 1921 as a joint project between the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Legion. Ninety years later, the event still focuses on generating public support for education and “informing the public of the accomplishments and needs of the public schools and to secure the cooperation and support of the public in meeting those needs.”
This year the theme is “Great Public Schools: A Basic Right and Our Responsibility.” The NEA invites the public to participate in AEW by bringing associated activities into their own communities. An electronic toolkit with materials and ideas has been provided for this purpose, and can be found at http://www.nea.org/grants/34749.htm. Each day of AEW has a specific focus:
Monday, Nov. 14: Kick Off Day
Tuesday, Nov. 15: Parents Day—parents are urged to visit their child’s classroom to experience a “day in the life” of their child and to encourage family engagement, an essential component of student academic success.
Wednesday, Nov. 16: Education Support Professionals Day—a day to recognize and thank those members of our schools’ staff who often go unheralded but impact children’s lives each school day. On this day, be sure to thank school bus drivers, custodians, secretaries, cooks, aids and all other professionals dedicated to the well-being of children in our schools.
Thursday, Nov. 17: Educator for a Day—allows community members to walk in the shoes of an educator, undertaking all the duties associated with the profession. The goal is to enhance understanding among educators and community leaders by highlighting the successes and challenges teachers face each day.
Friday, Nov. 18: Substitute Educators Day—This day seeks to increase respect for substitute educators and advocate for issues affecting these professionals: that all substitutes receive wage and help benefits for those who work most of the year and are provided with genuine, continual professional development opportunities.
The American Legion is encouraging all of its posts to support AEW in a variety of ways (see their brochure at http://legion.org/documents/legion/pdf/american_education_week_booklet.pdf), but there is a particular focus on getting the word out through activities that involve showcasing student accomplishments or creative works, which in turn engages their families and the community at large.
For more information on AEW and to find out how you can get involved, please visit http://www.nea.org/grants/19823.htm