Governor Bob McDonnell today proclaimed 2013 The Year of the Teacher in Virginia. The Year of the Teacher is part of Governor McDonnell's ALL STUDENTS initiative. The Year will feature programs and special recognition of teachers in Virginia. Information will be updated regularly at www.ALLSTUDENTS.Virginia.Gov.
"Virginia's teachers demonstrate selfless leadership day after day in classrooms across the Commonwealth," said Governor McDonnell. "Everyone knows a teacher who's stayed after school to support students; who's buying their own supplies; who's grading homework until 10, 11, or 12 at night then getting up early to put together the next day's lesson plan. This is amazing dedication. We must do more to recognize and appreciate these professionals. Teachers are charged with the responsibility of passing on traditions, knowledge and character to the next generation. They instill a love for learning, a respect for fellow mankind and a belief that the American dream is achievable by all, regardless of ZIP code or station in life. Today, I am pleased to announce that we will recognize teachers throughout the year for their commitment to excellence in education."
In 2010, Virginia's "Opportunity to Learn" legislation passed with broad bi-partisan support, further enhanced in 2011 and 2012, to offer options and innovation for all Virginia schoolchildren, especially those in at-risk or in underperforming school systems. The package focused on improving public charter school applications, developing criteria for virtual school programs, and establishing college partnership laboratory schools, and included a proposal to implement a groundbreaking pilot program to provide performance pay incentives of up to $5,000 to teachers in school divisions identified as hard-to-staff. The governor also advanced legislation to establish a tax credit for companies donating to nonprofit organizations that provide scholarships to help lower income students attend nonpublic schools.
Last month, Governor McDonnell announced proposals to advance professional development and continue Virginia's focus on excellent teaching, calling for a 2 percent pay increase for all teachers - the first in 5 years; incentives for teachers in STEM-H subjects, strategic compensation grants for teachers and other measures to recruit, retain and reward excellent teachers.
"An effective teacher at the front of the classroom is critical to the development and learning of our young people," said Secretary of Education Laura Fornash. The Governor's Year of the Teacher declaration shows his continuing commitment to highlighting the significant contributions our teachers make every day. We must recognize their daily dedication to learning and mentoring our children and look for ways to continue to honor their efforts."
As part of the "Year of the Teacher," Governor McDonnell invited citizens to share stories about an excellent teacher who inspires them to learn. Applicants are encouraged to send an up to 100 word essay to K12Education@governor.virginia.gov on why their favorite teacher should be recognized. The "My Favorite Teacher" contest will run through January 30th at 5:00pm. Submissions submitted by email will be shared throughout the month at http://www.facebook.com/AllStudentsVirginia.
"I remember my third grade teacher, Mrs. Gikas," said Governor McDonnell. "She was a stickler for making sure that work was done on time without excuses, but she did it in a way that was encouraging and uplifting. She truly believed that her students could do anything if they put their mind to it. Mrs. Gikas was a teacher and mentor who both inspired and demanded excellence."
Former Secretary of Education Jim Dyke said, "I have personally been able to see an excellent teacher up close. My mother was a public school teacher for more than 30 years, and she imbued me with a love for learning, as well as showing me first-hand that an excellent teacher can make all the difference in the world in a student's success."
In addition to the "My Favorite Teacher" contest, further events and proposals will be announced in the weeks and months ahead.
By virtue of the authority vested by the Constitution in the Governor of the Commonwealth of Virginia, there is hereby officially recognized:
THE YEAR OF THE TEACHER
WHEREAS, Virginia teachers are entrusted with the education of the Commonwealth's children; and
WHEREAS, Virginia teachers strive to instill a love of learning in and out of the classroom; and
WHEREAS, Virginia teachers seek to open students' minds to new knowledge and ideas while laying a foundation for life-long learning; and
WHEREAS, Virginia teachers model good citizenship by making positive and lasting contributions to society; and
WHEREAS, Virginia teachers fill many roles as motivators, explorers, mentors and listeners; and
WHEREAS, Virginia teachers, through academics, athletics, extra-curricular activities and social interaction, lead students to develop independence, discipline and character; and
WHEREAS, Virginia teachers work tirelessly to increase learning and achievement and to help each student meet the Commonwealth's high academic standards; and
WHEREAS, Virginia teachers help students to develop and reach their goals while recognizing that each student is an individual with different needs for growth and success; and
WHEREAS, Virginia teachers' commitment to academic excellence is reflected in increasing student learning and achievement and in the numerous national recognitions earned by the Commonwealth's public schools; and
WHEREAS, it is crucial that our citizens actively inspire young leadership and provide students with the knowledge, skills and abilities needed to be competitive leaders in the Commonwealth; and
WHEREAS, Virginia teachers are an essential pillar to developing a world class education system in the Commonwealth;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, Robert F. McDonnell, do hereby recognize the year two thousand and thirteen as THE YEAR OF THE TEACHER in our COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA, and I call this observance to the attention of all our citizens.
ABOUT ALL STUDENTS: ALL STUDENTS is an initiative launched by Governor Bob McDonnell to bring attention to the critical role K-12 education plays in our communities and our economy. We must be willing to consider strategies and structures that have been proven to address the achievement gap that continues to exist in the Commonwealth. We have a responsibility to ensure graduation rates rise and the rigor of our classroom challenges ALL STUDENTS. We have a responsibility to measure results and attainment and embed innovation in our education system. We have a responsibility to ensure ALL STUDENTS have the opportunity to learn.