01/16/2014

Program makes it easy to thank teachers who change lives

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A new initiative from Farmers Insurance gives people a way to send a personal thank-you to educators who make a difference in their lives and the lives of their children—and offers those educators a chance to win a grant to use in their classrooms.

Randi Weingarten at Farmers Insurance Thank a Million Teachers

AFT President Randi Weingarten was among the education leaders at a Thank a Million Teachers kickoff event in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 14. The program, she said, offers a way to "lift teachers in this country and accord them the respect their hard work justifies."

Teaching is "really, really, really hard work," she said. "Unless you spend time with a teacher—and walk in their shoes—you will never get a sense of the amount of time and effort and passion they put into helping children thrive."

Weingarten was joined at the event at D.C.'s Jefferson Middle School Academy by Washington Teachers' Union President Elizabeth Davis, U.S. Rep. Steve Stivers (R-Ohio), former National Education Association President Reg Weaver and Jefferson principal Natalie Gordon.

As part of the program, Farmers will contribute $1 million to support teachers and education programs in 2014. Once a teacher has received a "thanks," he or she is eligible to submit a brief proposal for a chance to win a grant of up to $2,500 for use in the classroom. Beginning in March, the public will be invited to vote on these proposals, and throughout the rest of 2014, 150 winners from across the nation will be selected. The first 30 grants will be awarded in April.

Thank a Million Teachers had its official launch with a float at the 2014 Tournament of Roses Parade. Educators from Montana and Nevada, along with local Los Angeles students, rode the float. Actor Jack Black also participated in a kickoff event in Los Angeles where he thanked his former middle school teacher and mentor.

Weingarten thanked Farmers for supporting a positive initiative. "It’s not often that a corporation goes out of its way to thank teachers for what they do, day in and day out," she said. "Believe me, we’ve seen the other side of the equation, in which teachers take the hits and are blamed and shamed."

More details are on the Thank a Million Teachers website.

[Dan Gursky, Farmers Insurance]

January 16, 2013