American Education Week: 'Opportunity to celebrate public education'
Kid Safe Zone students finish homework assignments at lton Green Memorial American Legion Post 194 (St. Augustine, Fla.). (Photo via Derry R. Greene)

American Education Week: 'Opportunity to celebrate public education'

The week before Thanksgiving, schools across the country participate in American Education Week.

This week, Nov. 16-20, by issue of proclamation from President Trump is American Education Week where all who work in public schools – teachers, administrative staff, cafeteria workers, bus drivers, substitute teachers and many others – are recognized for providing quality education and support to today's youth. How this week is celebrated looks different this year as teachers and students nationwide navigate an unprecedented school year. On the National Education Association website, ideas are provided on how parents, students and the community can recognize American Education Week while adhering to safety measures regarding COVID-19.

American Legion Committee on Youth Education Chairman Michael Westergren shares the following message on how the American Legion Family can support American Education Week:

"American Education Week is an opportunity to celebrate public education and honor individuals who are making a difference in ensuring that every student receives a quality education," Westergren wrote. "Students and educators who started this school year are forever changed by the pandemic. Plans have been put in place to accommodate the learning needs of in-person and virtual students to ensure the safety of students and school staff.

"The American Legion is focused on the educational well-being of all students. This week is a time to celebrate the American education system and we should use it to look at different ways Legionnaires can be promoting our values within the classroom. While we are limited in our ability to provide in-person instruction, many opportunities to assist are still available to posts in their local communities. For example, you can:

- Collect masks, disinfecting wipes or spray, paper towels and hand sanitizer for the classrooms.

- See if your schools need volunteers to distribute food or other items to children and families in need.

- Volunteer to help students with math or literacy skills if allowed.

- Consider applying to be a substitute teacher as school districts are struggling with this need.

"Outside of the school day there are many opportunities where Legionnaires can also fill a need. For example, many after-school programs need volunteers and parents have become involuntary homeschool teachers. Mentors and life-coaches are needed along with tutors to fill the gap created when kids are confided to online classes. Do you have language skills? Interpreters are needed for English language learners. And many high school students, through service learning and community service activities, are required to provide volunteer service as part of their graduation program. Can you provide service opportunities for these students?

"Gateways are still open to bring our Americanism programs into the classroom as teachers are looking for pathways to bring the perspective of veterans into their lesson plans. You can:

- Provide an outdoor class on flag education that includes proper folding and hoisting.

- Allow students to interview you as a veteran over Zoom.

- Create a video on the U.S. Constitution that focuses on your oratorical contest.

- Promote the American Legion School Award program to recognize students who demonstrate strong qualities of character and good citizenship.

"The American Legion is vested in the development and success of our youth. Take this opportunity to contact your local schools and discuss your education programs and how they can be adapted to meet current needs. Our students are sacrificing their performances, traditions and celebrations for other members of their communities, and they are going to see that their actions have helped others live.

"We are all responsible for each other."