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Celebrate appreciation week by “adopting” your favorite teacher in show of support

Teacher Appreciation Week officially started Monday, and the community is celebrating a little differently this year by “adopting” favorite local educators.

Wendy McBryde Lapeyrolerie, a teacher at Hardin-Jefferson High School, created an “Adopt a Teacher Appreciation Week” Facebook Page as a place for Southeast Texas teachers to be acknowledged and thanked for their hard work.

Lapeyrolerie said she played off the popular “Adopt a Senior” idea for local high school students.

“Usually every year, the English departments I’ve worked for will always have their students write all the teachers a letter of appreciation,” she said. “Those letters are priceless to us. Then it occurred to me right after the governor made the final announcement that we were not going to get those letters. I decided that we had a tough year already, so I needed to do something to try and make everyone’s day a little bit better.”

Lapeyrolerie posted the page publicly on April 29, expecting about 200 participants. The community group was at more than 4,000 by Monday morning.

“With COVID-19, people are having to teach from home and it has opened up their eyes to what we really do on a daily basis,” she said. “Teachers really have a tough job, and it’s amazing to see people reaching out to say thank you.”

Some teachers request only prayers, others smiles and wish lists.

Port Acres Elementary kindergarten teacher Marissa Phillips’ wish list was fulfilled last week. She received numerous goodies for her classroom, including pencils, mounting tap, carpet markers and more.

“More than anything, I’m so happy to see how many people love and appreciate teachers, myself included,” she said. “This has been a trying time for everyone, and I think the realization that this is much more than a job for teachers has become apparent. We long to be back in our classroom with our children. I would give anything for just one more day with my babies.”

Groves Middle School sixth-grade teacher Ashley Nicole Vickery received books, school supplies, bookmarks and games.

Ashley Nicole Vickery, a sixth grade English and language arts, or ELAR, teacher at Groves Middle School, received books, school supplies, bookmarks and educational games for her new students next year.

“Some of these items were bought by friends and family, but what was even more touching were the items purchased by complete strangers,” Vickery said. “As a first year teacher this year, it can be overwhelming but it is the love and support you get from the community that keeps you going during hard times like these.”

Lapeyrolerie said she is appreciative of everyone who was stepped up to adopt a teacher.

“The community is realizing how important teachers are,” she said. “With everything that is going on, it feels good to help somebody else out. It resonates with them, whether it’s a subject they liked in school or it’s their alma mater, they just want to give back and we really are appreciative of that.”

As of Monday morning, 482 teachers were adopted while 277 are waiting.

“If you were ever in a position where a teacher caught your eye or helped you in some way or fashion and you didn’t have a chance to thank that particular teacher, come out and thank this teacher,” Lapeyrolerie said. “Let them know that they are appreciated.”

The “Adopt a Teacher for Appreciation Week: SETX Texas” will remain open until May 13 for participation.

To view a list of available teachers, click on “Not Adopted” on the right hand side under popular topics.