Stephanie Hayes

Ever notice how appreciation holidays are for people who just need to be paid more? You never see Chief Financial Officer Appreciation Week or Venture Capitalist Appreciation Week or Celebrity Child Who Launched a Makeup Line Appreciation Week.

To that end, this past week was Teacher Appreciation Week. It was also Public Service Recognition Week, which honors government employees. And this coming week brings National Third Shift Workers Day, celebrating those who work at night.

All parties deserve respect, but due to limited space, let’s focus on teachers. We’ll shift later to getting DMV workers into the luxury cars they deserve.

There has never been a more important time to appreciate educators. This year, you can identify one simply by their hollow gaze, as seen above a mask.

When the National PTA created the week in 1984, it could not have predicted Children of the Corn: The 2020-21 School Year.

Remember when schools closed for spring break last year and everyone thought that would last an extra week or so, and then life became a movie montage of sweatpants, crying, internet logins, wine and sacrifices to He Who Walks Behind the Rows?

Teachers, administrators and support staff rose to the challenge. They created online classes, helped hapless parents, kept imparting knowledge into liquifying young brains.

Think of the librarians, the office workers. Think of the niches, from music to shop class to driver’s ed.

Have we stopped to thank the gym teachers, who had kids doing squats in living rooms? Have you seen a kid do a squat? It looks like a meerkat trying to pick a berry.

Then, teachers went back into the classroom before anyone else, serving as human experiments. Some are still doing the impossible, teaching in-person and remotely AT THE SAME TIME. This is called “simultaneous teaching,” and it is the Dark Arts.

On Teacher Appreciation Week, educators get perks from corporations hoping to catch do-good residue. Discounts at Buffalo Wild Wings are meant to ease suffering via Blazin’ Carolina Reaper, and rewards at Office Depot mean teachers can afford classroom supplies and take a night off as a National Third Shift Worker.

At my stepkid’s school, celebrations range from video hugs to dressing like the teacher. That’s a Friday thing, when delirium has set in and teachers can no longer tell the difference between insults and tributes.

I told this last bit to a teacher friend, who said: “Do you have a smock with stains from leftover pizza breakfast? Make them wear shoes that don’t hurt at first but, by the end of the day, have them all in tears. Just pay us.”

It’s a super point. If your state government is not moving fast enough on educator raises, have you considered giving the special teacher in your life a bag of dollars?

I’m talking Hamburglar stuff. Parents, I want you in a stripy shirt with a black Zorro mask. I want you tip-toeing into school with a sack over your shoulder but not before identifying yourself at the office so as not to alarm anyone.

Scrooge McDuck status, OK? Rich Uncle Pennybags. Ocean’s Eleven. I want it to look like a Drake video in there, dollar bills fluttering over banisters.

Then, only then, have we fully appreciated our teachers. Until then, a discounted Costco membership will have to do.

— Stephanie Hayes is a columnist at the Tampa Bay Times in Florida. Follow her on Twitter: @StephHayes and Instagram: @StephHayes. Click here for previous columns. The opinions expressed are her own.