The Bull Dog Alumni Association has always considered support of our great teachers as part of our mission. In fact, one of our very first projects, back in 2012, was to pay for substitute teachers so that the English Department could assemble for a 2-day, off-site curriculum planning session. We’ve been providing grants to teachers and department heads ever since – for continuing education, classroom aids and materials, and educational extracurricular activities (like field trips and competitions).
In the past few years, however, our focus has sharpened on the importance of activities that support and appreciate teachers. Several events and trends have convinced us to put a higher priority on projects that support teachers:
- Teacher turnover and resulting teacher shortages in many schools is having a direct impact on the main indicators of educational success. Test scores and graduation rates are no longer steadily increasing as they have in the past.
- The Covid-19 pandemic caused a very significant reduction in academic progress.
- As we talk to alumni (including those that we have inducted into the Bull Dog Alumni Hall of Fame), we find that their fondest memories usually involve their classmates and friends. But when asked to identify what experiences in high school contributed most to their later success in “the real world”, almost all bring up the name of a teacher, coach or counselor who made a difference in their life.
We’ve become convinced that Great Teachers make Great Bull Dogs. So, we’ve put more and more emphasis on our programs that recognize and reward Great Teachers:
- We first awarded a $1000 stipend to the Outstanding Teacher of the Year in May of 2016. Except for 2020 (when Covid-19 interrupted normal classroom education), we presented this award each year since then. Teachers are nominated by students.
- In May of 2021, we set up our first Teacher Appreciation Luncheon. It welcomed all teachers and support staff – and it has been an annual spring event ever since. Besides enjoying a free and tasty lunch, teachers are entered in a drawing for several $100 Amazon gift cards.
- In August of 2022 we put together the first Welcome Back program with a nice gift bag (including a “Great Teachers make Great Bull Dogs” T-shirt) for all teachers and support staff – and some additional goodies for teachers new to CNHS. Based on the response to this and previous programs, we decided to continue and enhance what we are now calling our Teacher Appreciation Program.
- In May of 2023 we awarded a $500 stipend to our first Emerging Teacher of the Year – nominated by students and awarded to an outstanding teacher in the first 3 years of their career.
- In August of 2023, we produced a second Welcome Back event for nearly 200 teachers and support staff. See the article: “Teacher Appreciation: 2023 Welcome Back Program” for a recap of this event.
We believe that our growing emphasis on teacher appreciation and support will pay dividends in the future. Feedback from teachers and administration has been overwhelmingly positive and we know that attracting and retaining the best teachers will contribute to ongoing excellence at CNHS.
Great Teachers make Great Bull Dogs!