SPRINGFIELD -- Governor George H. Ryan today declared May 6-10 as “Teacher Appreciation Week” to thank the state’s legions of dedicated educators who have committed themselves to improve the quality of education students receive in Illinois.
“During my tenure as Governor, my most urgent goal has been to try to improve the atmosphere of support for education. This means supporting the very backbone of education, the classroom teacher,” said Governor Ryan. “I’m urging all Illinoisans to join with me on this National Teacher Day to recognize the untiring contributions of this special group of people who have taken on the incredible responsibility of educating the next generation of students.”
Tuesday, May 7, 2002 has also been declared National Teacher Day to honor teachers and recognize the lasting contributions they make in the lives of their students. The first National Teacher Day was declared by Congress in 1953 with support from Eleanor Roosevelt. It is now annually celebrated as the first Tuesday of the first full week in May.
The first priority of the Ryan administration has been to improve the quality of education in Illinois. A major element in this mission has been to direct more resources into the classroom and to provide additional support for classroom teachers. During the Ryan administration, over 9,000 teachers have been hired, especially in the lower primary grades. The Governor has also allocated $100 million over two years to hire new teachers statewide, $1.5 million for a pilot professional development program for teachers and $2.5 million in scholarships for high school seniors who pledge to be teachers for five years after they graduate from college.
Governor Ryan also called an Education Summit last year to develop a strategy to recruit and retain teachers in Illinois. At the Summit, Governor Ryan issued a special call to develop creative ideas on how to attract new teachers to the profession. One of those measures is the proposed creation of a new $5,000 Illinois Teacher Education Assistance Campaign (I-TEACH) to provide scholarships for students studying to become teachers in subject areas where there is a shortage of teachers, like math or science. I-TEACH will be created out of existing grant programs at the Illinois Student Assistance Commission.