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Four Teachers Pin Their Way to Teacher Appreciation Week

Educators receive surprise thank you gifts for their collaborative use of social media.

Third-grade teacher Amanda Nickerson was upset. Her long-anticipated appointment to remove her braces had been unexpectedly rescheduled. So she headed to school in dark clothing (to match her mood), unaware of the big surprise that awaited her.

Partway through a lesson, school administrators and her husband walked into her classroom carrying a cake, balloons, and a gift box—all to honor Nickerson’s work on Pinterest. Turns out her husband rescheduled the appointment on purpose so that Nickerson could be celebrated.

Nickerson and three other educators were thanked during Teacher Appreciation Week for their collaborative use of Pinterest—a social network site where members share “pins” of ideas and items that inspire them with “followers.” Each educator built an impressive board of teaching resources and strategies, followed by thousands of their colleagues around the country. For their work, the National Education Association, along with its state and local affiliates, presented the educators with gift boxes containing items from their Pinterest wish boards, along with Kindle Fires, Staples gift cards, and other items for their classrooms.

“The minute a group of important people paraded into my classroom with balloons and gifts, I was a goner,” wrote Falmouth, Massachusetts, teacher Suzy Brooks on her blog “Third Graders: Dreaming Big.” “I knew something amazing was about to happen.” Brooks received her thank you gift from Falmouth Education Association President Ernie Holcomb, Mullen-Hall Elementary School Principal Donna Noonan, Falmouth Superintendent Marc Dupuis, Mullen-Hall special education teacher Nicole Bell and Falmouth teacher and MTA Board member Susan Baker. Her students recorded the happy moment on their iPads, shooting photos and video as she opened her box, which included a necklace saying “Dream” and a coffee maker.

Courtney Bertsch-Martin was working on the new evaluation system with her principle when they walked into the gym. At first Martin, a second-grade teacher at Frederickson Elementary didn’t know what to make of students and staff cheering, but when she saw her family taking pictures, she realized they were there for her. Washington Education Association President Mary Lindquist and Bethel Education Association President Tom Cruver, Frederickson Elementary School Principal Ellen Eddy, and other administrative staff surprised Martin with her gift box, containing, among other items, a Williams Sonoma cookbook and books for her classroom.

Josie Smolka, a fifth-grade teacher at Pond Road Middle School in Robbinsville, New Jersey, was surprised when she saw WTEA Mike Johnson, New Jersey Education Association Vice President Wendell Steinhauer, and Pond Road Middle School Principal Paul Gizzo arrive at her room with a large blue box topped with white ribbon. Her box included a Terrarium starter kit, books for her classroom, a Pond Road Middle School tote bag, and an orange necklace that Smolka had admired online.

“I am so grateful for the recognition from NEA, and I am also so blessed to be a part of such a supportive school district,” wrote Amanda Nickerson on her blog “One Extra Degree.” “The silly string [from the gift box] will make our last day pretty unforgettable, if I do say so myself!”