This school year will end unlike any other before it. But that doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be memorable. At a time that families are usually marking Teacher Appreciation Week and graduations, typical celebrations will be cancelled or postponed and the future of them remain unclear.

To ensure that both educators and graduates have a memorable May, Expect More Arizona, a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization, is rallying the state behind two special days:
• Tuesday, May 5, 2020 – Arizona Teacher Appreciation Day
• Wednesday, May 20, 2020 – Arizona Graduate Recognition Day

“Our teachers are amazing in normal times, but this spring has brought unique challenges,” says Christine Thompson, president and CEO of Expect More Arizona. “The sacrifices of time and emotional burden have been great as they adapted to distance learning. We want every educator in the state to feel honored.”

School closures have placed new burdens on educators as they transitioned from teaching in classrooms to teaching online or through paper packets. They’re supporting students over the phone and through online resources, while helping to track their mental well being, safety and academic needs.

“Graduation ceremonies are an important milestone in a student’s life, whether it’s kindergarten or a Ph.D.,” Thompson adds. “They’re a rite of passage, particularly for students who are first generation graduates, those who overcame unique burdens and those who accomplished their academic goals. The efforts shouldn’t go unnoticed.”

To help the community rally behind local teachers and graduates, Expect More Arizona has compiled creative ways to get involved.

Whether it’s sharing messages of congratulations/recognition on social media or orchestrating a neighborhood parade of cars, there’s something for everyone. Expect More Arizona has even included ideas on how teachers and graduates can identify themselves. Decorating homes or cars, homemade banners or caps and gowns are just a few suggested activities.

Some of these ideas include:
• Chalk your driveway or the sidewalk in front of your house with encouraging messages for grads and notes of appreciation for teachers
• Orchestrate a block driveway party to celebrate graduates
• Share messages of congratulations/recognition on social media using the appropriate hashtags (#AZTeachersRock and #AZClassOf2020)
• Families (or graduating classes) could coordinate a virtual graduation party; create school-themed virtual backgrounds that all students can use
• Make homemade yard signs or banners

“We want communities to get creative,” says Thompson. “We love our teachers and we honor our graduates and we want them to know that.”

Find more suggestions for creative ways to celebrate at