Begun in 1921 as part of an effort to raise America’s literacy rate after WWI, American Education Week presents all Americans with a wonderful opportunity to celebrate public education and honor the individuals who dedicate their lives to ensuring every child receives a quality education.

Distressed that 25 percent of the country’s World War I draftees were illiterate and 9 percent were physically unfit, representatives of the NEA (National Education Association) and the American Legion met in 1919 to seek ways to generate public support for education. Having decided on a national week of awareness, the first observance of American Education Week occurred December 4th-10th, 1921, with the NEA and American Legion as the cosponsors. A year later, the then U.S. Office of Education joined the effort as a cosponsor, and the PTA followed in 1938. Other co-sponsors that have joined over the years include the National School Boards Association and many more.

Celebrated annually during the last full week before Thanksgiving, the theme for this year’s celebration is Great Public Schools: A Basic Right and Our Responsibility.

The weeklong celebration features daily themes and this year they are:

  • Monday as AEW Kick-Off Day
  • Tuesday as Invite Parents to School Day
  • Wednesday as Education Support Professionals Day
  • Thursday as Educator for a Day Day
  • Friday as Substitute Educators Day

Events take place all week and are meant to honor the commitment of educators, the hard work of students, as well as the parents and other community members who work tirelessly to ensure better schools for all students.

Want to get involved? Here are 4 of our favorite ways to celebrate the week with passion and enthusiasm:

  1. Provide each student with a blank thank-you card to fill out, design, color, and give to someone who contributes to the school community. They can even bake cookies and distribute!
  2. Plan a contest for all students on writing an essay with the topic of “What I Like Best About My School” or “What I Would Do If I Were Principal”, or simply designing a new school flag. If you hold a student vs. teachers sports game of interest, the event can be used to raise money for student awards or charity!
  3. Post a different education-related quote each day in addition to providing special recognition to parent volunteers who support the school through creating a bulletin board in the common area.
  4. Have students circle the school and give it a big hug. Did you know that hugging is known to lower levels of stress hormones and increase the level of happiness? Spread some love in the community!

Do you have any other ideas? Please share them with us and all the other education enthusiasts out there with the hashtag #AEW2016 and #ruvna. Comment below, let’s discuss together!