As Ohio and the nation observe National Teacher Appreciation Week from May 2-6, there’s even more reasons this year to voice our gratitude for America’s classroom heroes.

Teaching has always presented a special set of challenges and rewards for those choosing a career in education.

But in 2022, after two years of pandemic disruptions, shifting mandates and staffing shortages, we have an even greater obligation to recognize the added burdens placed on an already demanding profession.

Being an educator myself, I clearly understand what it means to have the normal patterns of teaching and learning turned on their ear. From my own experience, I think especially of those who have only recently entered the profession and may never have experienced a “normal” year in the classroom.

As chancellor of Western Governors University Ohio, I see hundreds of students in our teachers college graduate each year with accredited bachelor’s and master’s degrees in education.

My thoughts are with them this coming week and I’m proud to know they’re using the skills we taught them to succeed in a teaching career or to advance further in their profession.

To encourage more Ohioans to follow in these graduates’ footsteps and work toward a career in teaching, WGU Ohio is offering special $4,000 scholarships to help make the dream of a becoming a teacher more accessible.

Available through June 30, these scholarships are for prospective teachers who want to earn their professional certification as well as for current educators ready to advance their careers with additional education.

Furthermore, this week WGU Ohio is expressing our gratitude by delivering teacher appreciation kits to a number of K 12 schools across the state. Kits contain a desk organizer, Post-it Notes, candy, pens and a note of appreciation for all they do.

Additionally, we’ll be awarding Transforming Education Grants to Ohio teachers to help them fund their innovative classroom projects.

Educators and aspiring educators are among our nation’s most crucial professionals, and they deserve our thanks for their determination in the face of pandemic disruptions and a challenging teacher shortage.

National Teacher Appreciation Week is not only an opportunity to show our gratitude to these very special people.

It’s also a time for all of us – students, parents, community members – to strengthen our commitment to those who educate and mentor America’s next generation of leaders.

Dr. Allen serves as chancellor of the Ohio affiliate of the online nonprofit Western Governors University.

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