Thrasher Elementary's Teacher Appreciation committee had a full schedule of festivities planned to celebrate National Teacher Appreciation Week May 1-7, but plans changed when devastating tornadoes hit the area April 27. With Signal Mountain schools having escaped the destruction still affecting many local schools, the committee decided the best way to recognize the teachers this year was to make a donation in their honor to two Bradley County elementary schools.
"While we wanted to honor our teachers, we didn't feel like the activities we had planned for Teacher Appreciation Week were appropriate in light of what was going on in the community," said Thrasher Teacher Appreciation Committee chair Coughlin Cooper.
The committee had previously arranged to spend the $700 allocated by the PTA on lighthearted activities. Chair massages in the teacher's lounge and renting antique cars for teachers to ride around in outfitted with "honk if you love Thrasher teachers" signs suddenly seemed frivolous to the committee in the presence of so much need.
"We thought the money could be put to much better use by someone who really needs it," said Cooper.
Teachers were still treated to a lunch at Sweet Gipsy, which was reopened by owner Jennifer Verville especially for the occasion, as well as various tokens of gratitude dropped off in classrooms and email in-boxes.
"We did things that were nice, but mostly within the school, low-key and free," she said.
Among these small gifts were two tickets given to each teacher for the Chattanooga Lookouts game May 25, also known as Thrasher Teacher and Staff Appreciation Night.
Before the game, checks for $350 each were presented to representatives from Blue Springs and Michigan Avenue elementary schools in Bradley County to purchase items from Scholastic book company to rebuild their damaged collections.
Thrasher fifth-grade teacher Jeff Paulsen threw the game's honorary first pitch, and Lookouts' fans experienced the sounds of music teacher Betty Julian's accordion as she led students in singing "The Star-Spangled Banner."