Each year, the first week of May signifies a dedicated time to celebrate educators: Teacher Appreciation Week. This year feels different. If there was ever a moment to give gratitude to our teachers, it is now. For the past month, I have spoken to dozens of educators from the mountains to the coast of North Carolina for my podcast Hope Starts Here.
Some truths that I’ve heard again and again in these conversations from teachers include:
“Times are hard.”
“This is all new.”
“But we’re still showing up.”
I started Hope Starts Here on March 20 to elevate stories of good during this unprecedented season. Hope is meant to ground us — to anchor us and give meaning to the uncertainty and hardship that is permeating many of our daily lives.
Five weeks ago when I started this show, it was a no-brainer for me to begin these conversations by talking to teachers. After all, they are experts in the field of hope — in seeing the possible and illuminating pathways where a student may see none. Throughout our episodes, I’ve interviewed 10 teachers and students — including an EMT instructor who is also a paramedic, a high school teacher using Snapchat to connect with her students, and a student body president.
For Teacher Appreciation Week, we’re launching a special project — five new episodes for you — each with a different rockstar teacher in North Carolina, publishing every day this week.
I’d love for you to join us by listening in and sharing appreciation for an educator in your own life. Do so on Twitter and tag @EducationNC, or write in the box at the end of this article and we’ll re-post for you.
Stay tuned for Friday’s episode, where I get to personally thank and interview a life-changing educator of mine that many of you may already know.
For our first episode, you’ll hear from Darryl Bradshaw. Bradshaw teaches in Durham County and is a part of the nonprofit Profound Gentlemen — an organization that engages current and aspiring male educators of color.
He shares about his journey from finance to the classroom, his dream for education in North Carolina, and why self-care is critical for teachers and something he is still learning.
For this episode, you’ll hear from Tatum Weaver. Weaver is a high school social studies teacher in Fayetteville, North Carolina. We talked all about her journey to becoming a teacher, what she wishes more people knew about educators, and her dream for education in the state of North Carolina.
For episode three, you’ll hear from Emily Golightly. She is an ESL teacher in Carteret county, where she also grew up years ago. Golightly shares what it was like to return to her alma mater as a teacher, and the unique experience of being an english as a second language teacher.
For this episode, you’ll hear from David Colwell who is retiring this summer after 40 years in education. Colwell was a high school social studies teacher for 20 years before serving as an assistant principal and a principal in Caldwell County. He’s retiring this year as principal of Hibriten High. Listen in to hear all about his education journey and the lessons he’s learned along the way.
For our last episode, you’ll hear from Freebird McKinney. This was a special episode for me, because McKinney was my teacher when I was in high school nearly a decade ago. We talked about how teaching helped him self-actualize and the power of building relationships in the classroom. For those of you who have heard Freebird refer to ‘the Shire,’ you’ll hear where that phrase came from and what it means to him. Most importantly, I got to thank him for the profound impact he had on my life as his former student.