National Teacher Appreciation

A fast-food chain. I was standing in line, waiting for my Oreo milkshake. There was a group ahead of me, with ages ranging from mid-twenties to mid-sixties, all dressed nicely. Mostly women.

The older group members were wearing pearls and blouses. The younger ones wore modern hairstyles, jeans, and tattoos. They were all teachers.

“It’s Teacher Appreciation Week,” one teacher explained. “We’re here because we get free stuff.”

“They give us free burgers today,” said another excited teacher.

“This is a fun week for a teacher,” added another woman. “They have buy-one-get-one deals at all the good restaurants if you show your school ID. My husband is going to take me out every night this week. He just doesn’t know it yet.”

Turns out, the deals for teachers are never ending. All over the US, teachers are getting major discounts and freebies this week.

At Barnes and Noble, for example, all teachers get free coffees. At most franchise fast-food joints teachers get free fries, burgers, tots, hot dogs, sandwiches, shakes, cookies, ice cream, and apple pies. There are companies offering discounted Caribbean cruises, half-price cellphone plans, and even free underpants.

There are deals to be had at AT&T, Michael’s, Levi’s, Vineyard Vines, J. Crew, Verizon, and of course, Crocs.

This week at Office Depot, teachers get 20 percent off. At Dollar General, teachers get 5 percent off for a whole month. And at select local restaurants, teachers receive free fishbowl Margaritas the size of above-ground kiddie pools.

“But they only give you one Margarita,” said a teacher. “And that’s not nearly enough for a teacher.”

While my Oreo delight was being whipped to perfection, I asked several of them how they entered into education.

“Oh, I always knew I wanted to be a teacher,” says one. “My mom says I used to line up my dolls in my room like students and boss them around.”

“I was a music major,” says another, “and I finally realized I was not going to make much of a difference in this world playing Chopin.”

The only male among them says he became a teacher because his mother was a teacher.

“Everyone who came to my mom’s funeral said, ‘Man, your mom changed my life,’ or, ‘Your mom made me want to do something with myself.’ So I think I became a teacher because of that.”

But there was one woman at the rear of the group who was older than the rest. She was quiet, reserved, and seemed sort of like the team mother. Mid-sixties. Cropped silver hair.

“I went back to school to be a teacher when I turned thirty,” she said. “Everyone said I was crazy. But I just felt like there was something inside me that needed to get out. Can’t explain it.”

Her first job out of college was teaching special-needs kids.

“On my first day, they gave me this boy who had a brain injury from a car accident. He was a sophomore, and he was in bad physical shape.”

It was evident that the young man would likely not graduate with the rest of his classmates, he’d fallen too far behind in his coursework. The teachers didn’t think he would ever catch up.

After all, the young man had other important things to worry about. He had a hard time speaking, writing and reading. He was still relearning basic motor skills.

“It took us five times as long as other students to finish homework,” she said. “It took him longer to understand things because his brain was just not there. When I first started, he came to school wearing a helmet, if that tells you how bad things were.”

After one particularly taxing day, she told the young man that if he wanted to take a break from school nobody would blame him. But if he wanted to graduate, she promised she was going to do everything within her power to make it happen.

He told her, through labored speech, “I want to graduate with my friends.”

So they worked night and day. He stayed after hours. She visited his house on weekends for private tutoring. Sometimes they ordered pizza and stayed up late into the night so he could understand the finer points of chemistry, history, or the veiled mysteries within the systematic hell that is algebra.

“When he walked down the aisle to graduate,” she said, “I was a mess. My makeup was running everywhere. And just when I thought the ceremony was over, the principal called me up to the podium, and I was like, ‘Wait, what’s going on?’”

She made the short walk through the gymnasium and received a standing ovation. The boy’s parents embraced her. The staff shook her hand. The principal gave her a brass award the faculty created just for her.

That was a long time ago, but the plaque still hangs on the wall in her living room where she can always see it.

I asked what became of her student.

“What do you think?” she said. “He’s a teacher now, too.”


  1. Leigh Amiot - May 4, 2022 9:51 am

    Mrs. Lee Pulliam…the teacher who set me on the correct path…I pray she is having a very good day, heard she retired to Florida.

  2. SimplestForm - May 4, 2022 10:14 am

    What? No comments yet? I try to not read comments at sites because of all the anger but do read them from fans of Sean’s because it reminds me of others like him out there.

    I was not a great student and became a teacher at 29 after the Marines, hoping to help other average kids find their place in this world. As I have told my various interns over the years, it is both the greatest and worst job in the world, depending on the day/moment. A balancing act of false lip service from some and genuine care and support from others; teachers are simultaneously put on a bullseye and pedestal. With 25 years of no greater highs or lows and while enjoying a cookie given by a supportive family, I just signed next year’s contract to stay in the game.

  3. Robert mottet - May 4, 2022 10:39 am

    My mom was a TEACHER. She lived on a farm in the country with 10kids. Her mother died when she was14. Her father was an alcoholic he left. The older brothers went and brought the girls to town. Six of them and enrolled them in school. My mother married my dad in 1940. When I started school do did my mom. She worked on her degree days and night. She taught deaf kids ,learning disability,and lazy kids. When I started college I was lazy And having a real good time. After my first semester I was on probation. That summer my mom enrolled me in summer school and she came to my college and worked on her phd. I lived with her off campus. I made all A’s. That’s a mom


  4. Donna - May 4, 2022 10:41 am

    Sean, must you make me cry every single day? You have a way of finding the most touching and tender stories in everyday life. You keep writing, and I’ll keep reading. And sniffling. Peace.

  5. Marianne Bryan - May 4, 2022 10:47 am

    That is the teacher everyone loves beyond…….

  6. Connie - May 4, 2022 11:21 am


  7. Babs - May 4, 2022 11:28 am

    Thank you

  8. Cheri Michele Foster - May 4, 2022 11:29 am

    Thank you for showcasing the good people.The crazies get their 15 minutes of fame on the evening news. We need you to remind us that most people are good…and you always do.

  9. Paul McCutchen - May 4, 2022 11:44 am

    I had some wonderful teachers in grade and high school. In a small town you would see your teachers in church and every where else in town. I asked one teacher why she was so tough on us boys. She smiled and, with her hands holding my face, she said “because eighth grade boys are hard headed”. As I got older I realized how true she was.

  10. Lauree - May 4, 2022 11:45 am

    From a retired teacher:
    Thank you for this article! It’s nice to know that the communities are gathering to give teachers a sign of appreciation. They don’t often get even a thank you. Many times they go days without any sign of progress but they persevere. There are all kinds of teachers out there and not even the ineffective teachers are paid enough. The great ones don’t teach to get rich or have spring break or summers off, but to make a difference. They make the world a better place. Thank you, Sean D, for highlighting their work.

  11. Ann - May 4, 2022 11:46 am

    Most people have no idea how far above and beyond teachers go….and I’m sure everyone has at least one memorable teacher….congratulations to all who dedicate their careers to education…..recipients are our scientists..doctors..lawyers..writers…and every walk of life…TEACHERS,!❤️❤️

  12. susieklein - May 4, 2022 12:09 pm

    Oh my heart! I am new here but devouring every word you write! This moved me so much. After 30 years in full time ministry, I taught preschool for 5 years until covid shut down our little school permanently. I loved the ministry, but often fantasized how wonderful it would have been to choose the school teaching path instead, I loved it so much!

  13. Mike Hathorne - May 4, 2022 12:12 pm

    WOW, AMEN.
    How humbling this is, AND how AWESOME.

  14. Sharmen Oswald - May 4, 2022 12:21 pm

    I am an educator from a line of educators. I entered the education profession 43 years ago because I knew I wanted to make a difference. That difference, one child at a time, has been accumulative over the years. I often run into former students who are now grandparents! Just recently, a young girl at my school told me, “You taught my grandma. I didn’t think you could be that old.” 🙂 I hugged her and said, “Teachers don’t really age….they just get better.” My heart goes out to every educator.

  15. stephenpe - May 4, 2022 12:38 pm

    I can’t let this go. I taught 40 yrs and the guy that inspired me in 1967 lives in Tennessee. He was my PE teacher in 7th grade. I FINALLY got his number and called him yesterday. He was a retired professor from MTSU. I wrote this about him on FB.

    Coach……that inspired me to be “Coach””
    In 1967 I met a man that would go on to influence me for the next 50 yrs. THat year all of us sixth graders from Archer Elementary had to bus to Newberry for high school. Before the start we were told to visit Jimmie Hughes store in Gainesville for dark blue gym shorts to wear with a t-shirt and tennis shoes for PE. PE was new to me because Archer had only recess where we played kickball, softball and some dodge ball. No teacher.
    So we head out first period while the grass is still wet. Doing lots of different calisthenics or what we call exercises today. In the grass doing situps and pushups. Those t-shirts proved we were getting down and dirty. I loved every minute of it. The guy challenged us. We eventually took the President Physical FItness Test to see how much we had improved.
    The same guy taught us so many skills and sports. We learned the normal games like football, basketball and soccer but also wrestling, ping pong, badminton horse shoes, even cage ball games with a GIANT Ball. It was the most fun I ever had in school up to then. He was an outstanding teacher and kept us learning and busy. I realized later on how much fun it was getting kids involved in games and fitness. Challenging them to find the activity they liked best. He stayed in Newberry one more year. Headed to Middle Tenn. State to get a masters in school Admin. Turns out the head of PE there convinced him to stay and teach in that dept and he taught over 30 years there. Inspiring future PE teachers in the process.
    I just got off the phone talking with this man, Richard Lalance. The first time we have talked since I was probably 14 years old. I told him on this Teacher Appreication Day how much he inspired me and taught me lessons I was able to use the four decades I was so fortunate enough to work with kids. He told me he went to the Univ, of West Va. that at that time was a premier college for PE majors. That he took great pride in his program. Those young boys at Newberry back then actually had an expert PE teacher that went on to be a college professor of PE. I am not surprised by any of this. He was great at what he did and like most of my life I was lucky to learn from a great one.

  16. Linda Lewis - May 4, 2022 12:38 pm

    As a retired teacher, I really enjoyed this story. I loved it. It filled my heart with pride. There are a lot of hard-working teachers out there. I loved my years of teaching. As a child, I, too played school with my sister. Of course, I was the teacher. Keep recognizing the teachers.

  17. Jan - May 4, 2022 12:48 pm

    Awesome story, as always! Thanks Sean and Thank You Teachers!

  18. Shelton A. - May 4, 2022 12:55 pm

    Teachers and professors made a huge difference in my life. Thanks for all you did to make me love to learn and reinforce my love of reading. RIP, y’all. The Lord has you all now and you have all earned it. You know who you are. Blessings and peace

  19. Suellen - May 4, 2022 12:57 pm

    Blessed be the teachers.

  20. Susie - May 4, 2022 1:01 pm

    Actually, Sean, algebra can be very much fun once one learns the rules of it. I started off hating and struggling with it….then the lights came on and I loved it. 👍. It was actually FUN then. ☺️

    • Dale - May 10, 2022 10:13 am

      I taught Algebra for over 15 years. I made it my job to make this course as easy as possible for my students! Hated it when so called consultants came in stressing the newest trend and took ALL common sense about education.

      Ex. When estimating numbers, round to the first number. 598 =500. WRONG!!
      Consider your elementary students as being proficient in knowing their multiplication tables if they know the 1-5 tables!

      Thank God for teachers who stood up against this nonsense and said none of this in my classroom!!

  21. Sarah - May 4, 2022 1:08 pm

    God bless teachers! ♥️

  22. rochellebiffle - May 4, 2022 1:09 pm

    Tears!! I am a teacher and I think we all hope to make an impact on our students lives for better. That they may have a full life that they love living and handle the adversity that comes to them.

  23. Cynthia Russell - May 4, 2022 1:17 pm

    BLESS YOU SEAN! Thank You!!

  24. mary piland - May 4, 2022 1:41 pm


  25. Mari Bonomi - May 4, 2022 1:41 pm

    From a retired career teacher, a heart-felt “Thank you!” There are a few teachers out there whe sat in my English classroom, too. Christa McAuliffe summed our profession up I the simplest terms: I touch the future; I teach.”

  26. Melissa Simpson - May 4, 2022 1:50 pm

    Love it!

  27. Pam Wilkinson - May 4, 2022 1:59 pm

    Miss Ingram taught Latin and English at Hickman High School in Columbia, Missouri. She was a fabulous influence and I once sent her anonymous flowers because I was too shy to tell her how much her classes meant to me. Everyone has at least one teacher who made a profound difference. If you can, let them know.

  28. Susie Stanfield - May 4, 2022 2:06 pm

    Wrapping up year 38 as a Teacher of students who are Deaf/Hard of Hearing. More than once, I’ve had the blessing of working with a student from PreK – HS graduation. I knew at age 12 this is what I’d do with my life!

  29. Ruth Mitchell - May 4, 2022 2:08 pm

    Thank you so much for that beautiful story. I’ve been retired from teaching for over twenty years, and one of my former students was awarded Alabama Teacher of the Year 2022. Talk about pride! I’m bursting with it, and it didn’t hurt my feelings a bit when she offered me some credit for inspiring her to choose a career in teaching. I also feel that same amount of pride when one of my former students comes to help my husband out with keeping our grass cut but won’t start until he gets a hug from me. Several times a month, my path is crossed by some former student who makes me smile. I might not have gained riches to put in the bank, but my memory deposits are still gaining interest to take me through the years I have left. Oh, and, another special blessing: both of my daughters became teachers.

  30. John Bowling - May 4, 2022 2:08 pm

    Sent this to my daughter and her husband both of whom are teachers! Thanks so much for recognizing them!!

  31. Kevin - May 4, 2022 2:12 pm

    Just when I’ve dried my eyes from the last column, here we go again.

  32. Cathy Moss - May 4, 2022 2:40 pm

    Wonderful tribute to all teachers. My daughter is a teacher and I have watched her work tirelessly for twenty some odd yrs. Often goes to her classroom on Sunday to prepare for the week. Teaching this week with a acinus infection. The pandemic has been hard for all of us but I believe all teachers deserve a bonus for powering through the past two yrs. Many have retired. Not my girl. I did not raise a quitter. Every time I see a policeman, fireman or a someone in the military I thank them for their service. Maybe teachers should wear a badge. I salute every single person who devoted their life to teaching our children. They don’t get nearly enough credit and pls. Know that most of them go home to take care of their family and put a meal together. God bless them all❤️🙏🏻

  33. Patricia Gibson - May 4, 2022 2:48 pm

    What a tearjerker and God bless Teachers ❤️Since I am one, I know the feeling.

  34. Gayle Wilson - May 4, 2022 2:58 pm

    Thank you Sean for recognizing a profession that does not get much credit, nor much pay. As a retired 37 year veteran of education I applaud all areas of education, including those who home school their children. It is a noble profession.

  35. Susan McCall - May 4, 2022 3:19 pm

    Of course! That’s why we do what we do!

  36. Debbie Parks - May 4, 2022 3:44 pm

    Mrs. Norman was my favorite teacher at SJHS. She helped me to overcome being afraid to speak out in class and taught me to memorize poetry I even attended her Church with Art Campbell one Sunday evening. I so remember that wonder lady.

  37. Michael - May 4, 2022 4:01 pm

    Wonderful article about teachers and the celebration of them during Teacher’s Appreciation Week. I had wonderful teachers in grammar school, high school, and college. Had a very few really bad ones also, but fortunately they were an extremely small percentage of all my teachers. The good ones were smart, dedicated to their students, tough when they needed to be, and made significant differences in my life. I was raised by two parents who very strongly supported my teachers. If I got out of line at school, when my father heard about it, he always accepted the word of the teacher, and I paid the price. In today’s modern world teachers now unfairly have to deal with helicopter parents who rail against a teacher for giving their child a bad grade despite the fact that the child refuses to make the necessary effort to earn good grades.

    Thanks and blessings to all the teachers who take on the hard work of their profession and do their best to care for each of their students day in and day out.

  38. Pieter Voorhees Sr. - May 4, 2022 4:07 pm

    As was my dad and one of my two sons, and my daughter was been in admin at a succession of colleges,
    Me, the brainiac son, decided that when I was a LT in the Navy in 1968, making more money than my dad, who’d been teaching at private schools for thirty plus years, decided that teaching was not for me. I’ve been truly blessed with a wonderful life and a wonderful (2nd) wife, and enjoying health that I did nothing to deserve. God is good!

  39. Cynthia - May 4, 2022 4:40 pm

    I love this story because as a retired teacher, it reminds me of what was so special about my career.

  40. Ellen read - May 4, 2022 5:27 pm

    You tell such GOOD stories!!! Thank you!

  41. Annette T - May 4, 2022 6:31 pm

    Not a teacher, but am very impressed by the correct-ness of all three grammar, spelling, etc. I wish more teachers were able to impress their students with these qualifications!

  42. Kathryn - May 4, 2022 6:35 pm

    I love this! Bless teachers everywhere!

    And for the record, as a septuagenarian who was gainfully employed in an honorable profession for almost 40 years, i would like to make two points for math students and teachers everywhere. I have NEVER, ever been required to utilize the systematic hell that is algebra in my daily life. Secondly, yes I DO have a calculator everywhere I go!

    • Dale - May 10, 2022 10:24 am

      I taught Algebra over 15 years. My students would ask “when will I ever use this?” and I’d answer “You won’t!”
      Then after the class calmed down, I’d explain that it would help them learn to just follow complicated directions on a job, just because the boss said so. That it would help them stretch their brains when directions were built on to so a more complicated task could be performed.
      I gave and taught many other “job” skills.

      And yes you have used Algebra in regular life. Ever worked backwards balancing your checkbook?? Working backwards with arithmetic is your basic Algebra!

  43. pattymack43 - May 4, 2022 6:51 pm

    Applause!! Applause!! Teachers will never get enough credit!! May God bless them, one and all!!!

  44. David S Doom - May 4, 2022 7:26 pm

    The reason we have Teacher Appreciation Week is because they are vital to all of us and we don’t pay them enough to feel appreciated.

  45. Mike Dube - May 4, 2022 8:45 pm


  46. Linda Moon - May 4, 2022 8:50 pm

    Today I met and soon made a new friend…a retired teacher, like me. I didn’t know about the free stuff, though. If I had, I would’ve called my retired friends to meet for brunch….our favorite meal, especially down in Magnolia Springs!

  47. Karen - May 4, 2022 9:21 pm

    I cherish my 38 years of teaching.

  48. Sissy Lingle - May 4, 2022 9:29 pm

    Thank you for the Teachers’ Day column, Sean. I am a retired teacher and I did see many successes in my teaching years. It is a shame that the times have changed and that discipline is much more difficult to handle in so many schools now. I am glad that my teaching years are in the past. It is nice to run into adults who remember and thank me once in a while.

  49. Dee Thompson - May 4, 2022 10:48 pm

    Beautiful! My mom was a teacher, and my paternal grandmother was a teacher. Two of my uncles were teachers. One of my aunts was a teacher. My dad taught night school when I was little, to make extra money. Two of my closest friends are teachers. I have great respect for teachers. They should be paid really well and honored! Where would we be without dedicated teachers?!

  50. Gloria - May 5, 2022 3:45 am

    WOW! What dedication. Such a beautiful story. Thanks for sharing.

  51. CHARALEEN WRIGHT - May 5, 2022 8:27 pm

  52. Melissa Armstrong - May 6, 2022 11:59 am

    My mother taught the 4th grade for the last 30 years of her 40 year career. She told me I needed to be a nurse so I would never be in need of a job. I did enjoy a 44 year career as a nurse, and 15 years of that I was a Nursing Educator. Best of both worlds!

  53. Susie - May 6, 2022 4:07 pm

    My mom was a junior college teacher for a few years and high school teacher in math and sciences, mostly biology. A thirty-five year career in teaching and she lived/loved it. Many of her past students have attributed to her their having become doctors. My dad was also a biologist; both were great conservation educators.

  54. Dale Parsons - May 9, 2022 3:42 pm

    Beautiful. My wife went back to school when our triplet sons started kindergarten. She taught 7th graders for 22 years. She retired in 2017. After surviving breast cancer she finally got her dream job. She is back at the same middle school as the librarian.

  55. LBJ - May 10, 2022 4:39 am

    I’m a retired teacher. I spent more than a couple of decades in kindergarten. Some of my “kindergarten babies” are now married with children of their own. I sometimes wonder if they remember me.
    Yesterday I received the most wonderful message from one of “my dads”. I was blessed to have all 3 of his daughters so many years ago. Today, the youngest graduated from Emory University. He sent a picture of the three girls on the couch laughing at everything I had stuffed inside her “kindergarten time capsule”. One of the papers in it held the interview I had with her. I asked what she thought she would do when she was grownup. I don’t recall her answer, but whatever it was, I’m pretty sure teachers guided her & her sisters with her mom & dad always ready to support them. Not only do I remember my “kindergarten babies”, the whole family remembers me. My heart is so full,
    Included in the capsule was the wonderful essay by Robert Fulghum: All I Really Need To Know I Learned In Kindergarten. His words still ring so true. Play fair. Live a balanced life. Put things back where you found them. Don’t take things that aren’t yours. Hold hands and stick together.
    I think those sweet young women listened, looked and learned. The world’s a better place with them to help lead us. I am so very proud of them!


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