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posted: 11/9/2012 12:38 PM

Rafferty: Dist. 54 thanks those committed to education

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By Ed Rafferty, Dist. 54 Superintendent of Schools

November is typically a time when we take a few minutes to reflect upon our many blessings and let those who have been vital in making our lives better know how much they are appreciated. It is not surprising that American Education Week and School Board Recognition Day fall within this month. Like Thanksgiving, the opportunity to thank our teachers, support staff and school board members has become a part of District 54's annual November traditions.

Special Thanksgiving ceremonies have been common practice in our country for almost 400 years. The Thanksgiving holiday is thought to be closely tied to an English tradition which was introduced by the early settlers dating back to 1621. History tells us that the first Thanksgiving feast was held not only to celebrate a bountiful autumn harvest, but also a way to say thank you to those who helped the early settlers survive in the new world.

Similar to Thanksgiving, celebrating American Education Week began many years ago. As veterans returned home from fighting in World War I, our country was looking for a way to support our war heroes and at same time generate increased awareness of the importance of receiving an education. Given the high illiteracy rate in our country at that time, it became readily apparent that something needed to happen to alleviate this problem.

Representatives from both the American Legion and the National Education Association began working together to address this problem and generate greater support for public education. The first American Education Week observance occurred in 1921, co-sponsored by both organizations. Within a few years, the National Parent Teacher Association and other national organizations joined the effort. Today, American Education Week is always celebrated during the week prior to Thanksgiving.

During November, School District 54 not only honors our exceptional teachers and support staff members, but also gratefully acknowledges the efforts of many individuals who support us throughout the year. We deeply thank our PTA and the Schaumburg Township Elementary School Foundation, along with the many community and business partners who are passionately committed to working closely with us in providing incredible opportunities to our students.

To recognize the countless hours of dedication and volunteer service that school board members provide, Illinois has designated Thursday, Nov. 15, as School Board Members Day. Our seven elected board members are committed to making great learning opportunities happen for all 14,000 of our students by continuing to raise the bar, setting high expectations for both students and staff alike and holding each of us accountable for meeting the district's rigorous annual targets.

Special thanks to Board of Education members Peggy Brothman, Bill Harper, Barbara Hengels, Teresa Huber, Charlotte Kegarise, Mary Kay Prusnick and Karen Strykowski for their commitment to making District 54 be one of the most successful in Illinois.

Please join me in also thanking our parents, community members, business partners and employees for all they do to ensure that District 54 is a great place for students to learn and grow.