Public can see District 51 from employees’ viewpoint

Parents and community members are invited to spend a day in a School District 51 employee’s shoes during American Education Week Nov. 18-22.

The National Education Association and American Legion launched American Education Week in 1921 to spread public information about education, according to the association’s website. This will be the first year District 51 will celebrate the week with activities, starting today with a kickoff on social media outlets.

Tuesday is “Parents’ Day,” when the district will encourage parents to volunteer at schools in classrooms, cafeterias or help out in other areas. Wednesday and Thursday will be “Education Professional Support Day” and “Educator for a Day,” respectively. Anyone can volunteer to shadow a teacher on Thursday, while Wednesday will be an opportunity for people to shadow any other professional in the district, including custodians, secretaries, and principals.

Friday is a substitute teacher appreciation day, but District 51 spokeswoman Christy McGee said there will not be shadowing opportunities that day because it’s hard to plan ahead due to the last-minute nature of subbing.

McGee said 10 to 12 people have volunteered to participate in shadowing opportunities but more are welcome. Anyone who wants to participate can contact her at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

The goal behind inviting people into schools and district operations buildings is to help get more people to see what employees do each day, according to Mesa Valley Education Association President Darren Cook. The teacher’s union and the district are co-sponsoring the week’s events.

Cook said he hopes people do more than shadow employees and give their jobs a try by serving food in a cafeteria or sweeping a floor. He also hopes people stick around for an entire day rather than an hour or two.

“We know there’s a high correlation between community involvement, especially parental involvement, and student success. We want to show the successes and the challenges in public education,” Cook said.

Cook said he hopes the experience encourages more people to become interested in helping schools and that American Education Week grows in the future.

“My goal would be to see 100 percent of classrooms have a person in them and having them reporting out to their friends and neighbors what they saw,” he said.


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