Thank You Teachers

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In General

Somewhere along the way, a teacher influenced your life in a big way. Perhaps the teacher encouraged you to pursue a particular interest or skill, challenged you to push the limits and achieve more, or saw something in you that you were unable to see on your own. The first week of May is an opportunity to thank those teachers who helped you and continues to influence the lives of countless other students.

For 15 years, teachers at Simon Youth Academies have been igniting hope in at-risk youth across the United States. Some of the best teachers and administrators in the nation take on the challenge to see these students through high school graduation. Without the steadfast support of more than 120 teachers in 23 Academies in 13 states, more than 10,000 students would have become statistics in the dropout crisis facing America. Instead these 10,000 graduates are able to pursue their dreams all thanks to the teachers who put in tireless effort to see them succeed.

The most important factor in a student’s success in school is the quality of the teacher in the classroom. It takes a special kind of person to become a teacher, especially one that has decided a Simon Youth Academy is where they can make the most difference. The time and energy they devote to ensure these students don’t fall through the cracks and can instead walk away with their diploma is admirable and deserves our deepest appreciation.

Day in and day out these teachers don’t look for recognition, but there is a way to show them how much you care. PEOPLE magazine wants to highlight amazing teachers by announcing the first PEOPLE Teacher of the Year Award. You can download an application and nominate your favorite teacher. Applications will be accepted through July 2, and the winners will be determined by PEOPLE’s editors and an independent panel of education professionals. The panel includes Kimberly Oliver Burnim, a prize-winning Maryland teacher; John Deasy, superintendent of L.A. Unified School District; Lily Eskelsen of the National Education Association; Wendy Kopp, founder and CEO of Teach for America; and Grammy-winning musician and philanthropist John Legend.

Five educators working in grades K-12, who are making a difference in their students’ lives, will be awarded a $5,000 prize, with support from the sponsor Kellogg’s Frosted Mini-Wheats cereal.

Take a moment today to thank a teacher and nominate them for all they have done for you.

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