Last night was supposed to be the occasion of the annual Teacher Appreciation Banquet in Springfield hosted by the Foundation for Springfield Public Schools, an annual event that regularly draws more than 800 people. Of course it didn’t happen, but from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. I attended a Zoom meeting hosted by Natalie Murdock, executive director of the Foundation, “for a few of our friends, who serve on our committee now, have served in the past, our current board, a few of our past leaders.” I dressed for the meeting the same way I would have to attend the real banquet: dress shoes, slacks, colored shirt, jacket, and the special tie I’ve worn to every banquet for the last twenty+ years.
This is the first time I’ve gotten dressed up since the pandemic began but I consider the Teacher Appreciation Banquet an important event and though it was a virtual meeting it still felt like an occasion to show my respect to the teachers who would have been honored last evening if the real thing could have happened.
The banquet is now reset for August 31 so I’ll wear the tie again, twice in one year, and join the large hall filled with people who come to honor the men and women who educate and help raise our community’s children.
Yesterday I mailed my check for a ticket to this year’s Teacher Appreciation Banquet, which is always attended by 800-1,000 teachers, family, and supporters of public education. It has been held every year since 1994. Nancy Graff and I organized the original banquet. I was master of ceremonies from 1994-2000 and guest speaker in 2001. The date this year is April 15 and will be held at Oasis Convention Center in Springfield. Tickets are $35, which includes a silent auction featuring designer wear, gift baskets, movie passes, tasty treats, and much more. There will also be a performance from the cast of Kickapoo High School’s theatre production of “Into the Woods.” Tickets can be purchased from Foundation for Springfield Public Schools, 1331 Boonville, 65802. Maybe I’ll see you there!
This year I’ll have the pleasure of sitting at the table with teachers and staff from David Harrison Elementary School and rooting for Harrison art teacher Kevin Zimmerman, one of the five finalists for Teacher of the Year. If he wins, Kevin will be the second teacher from Harrison who has held that honor. The delightful teacher in the picture is Dawn Licata who teaches second grade at Harrison. She and her students made valuable contributions to 7 KEYS TO RESEARCH FOR WRITING SUCCESS, the 2018 Scholastic book I co-wrote with Mary Jo Fresch. The picture was snapped at the 2016 banquet and I don’t recall why I was suddenly sporting a beard and long face, but it must have been fun!
The banquet has a life of its own now and is in the capable hands of others. These days I get to wear my special tie, which I’ve worn to every banquet since the beginning, and take quiet pleasure in watching teachers enjoying themselves on the evening set aside to honor them and remind the community of the vital role they play in our lives.
Tonight in Springfield is the annual Teacher Appreciation Banquet. I don’t know what the attendance will be but it’s generally in the 850-1,000 range. It was my idea, twenty-three years ago, to have a banquet each year to remind teachers how much they are appreciated, provide the community with an opportunity to meet and celebrate their teachers, and demonstrate to students that teachers are highly respected. I helped run the banquet for the first seven years. Nancy Graff, her staff, and I formed the core team and we reached out to as many others as we needed. I haven’t played a role for a long time but I almost never miss the event. I even have a special tie that I only wear once a year to the Teachers Appreciation Banquet.
Each year at the banquet a teacher of the year is announced from among five finalists. For many years I used to sit on the committee that interviewed all nominees and selected the five finalists. Tonight one of the five finalists for Teacher of the Year teaches at David Harrison Elementary School so I have an extra incentive to be there! Way to go, Kevin Zimmerman!
I attended the annual Teacher Appreciation Banquet Monday night and had the distinct privilege of sitting at a table of David Harrison Elementary teachers. It was a lovely evening and we all behaved with proper decorum at all times.