Students fund Teachers’ Week

An assortment of foods purchased by a member of Student Council for the Teacher Appreciation Week.

By Ethan Walshe

Teachers who give so much to their students are deserving of recognition. The week of April 14-18 was that time. The annual Teacher Appreciation Week, organized by the Westford Academy Student Council took place over the span of these five days. Each day, teachers were presented with various food items, ranging from bagels, to fruit, to ice cream.

What they may not know, however, is that members of Student Council pay for this largely out of pocket.

Student Council members are responsible for bringing in the items that are required for each day of the Teacher Appreciation Week, and are then supposed to be reimbursed for their purchases. However, when one student buys items such as one dozen bagels, bags of pepperoni, tubs of yogurt, dozens of cookies, and ice cream fixings, this can easily total in excess of $20 to $30, for which students are expected to be reimbursed $10.

The number that is reimbursed has traditionally been flexible, according to Student Council advisor John Nidzgorksi. It has always been something for discussion, as costs fluctuate from year to year.

“When we first started we didn’t give any money back to the students and we felt it was some money that [they] were kicking in, so we said, ‘Let’s give them five dollars.’ We looked at it again and said, ‘if we have it in the funds, let’s give them $10,'” said Nidzgorski.

For the most part, the staff of WA is not aware that this is how their week is financed.

“I think it’s terrible that the students are paying out of pocket. Life is expensive, gas is expensive, they don’t have the money to do that,” said instructional technology specialist Kathe Paquette.

It is of course, worth noting however that the Student Council budget is also used to finance some of the week’s expenses. For example, the Student Council’s budget is used to purchase ice cream from Kimball Farm, as otherwise it would be a huge expense for the students. Additionally, teacher baskets which are given out on the Wednesday of Teacher Appreciation Week are not paid for by students.

Personally, I find it senseless that a select group of students are responsible for financing the Teacher Appreciation Week. It strikes me as unreasonable that twenty-seven students must fund an entire week of food for the staff of WA.

Though it is too late to ameliorate the situation for this year, perhaps the most appropriate fix in the future would be to encourage parent donations to a fund that would go directly toward Teacher Appreciation Week. For example, at elementary level during parent-teacher conferences, parents organize a dinner for the teachers and sign up to contribute items to the event. This is a larger body of people than just the individuals in student council or just their parents.

Alternatively, Student Council should look toward local businesses to finance some of the week. Contributions would keep costs low, encourage interaction with local businesses, and keep everyone happy.

Nidzgorski expressed an interest in revisiting the issue of cost after the week had finished, as Student Council traditionally has a meeting at the end of the week to address any concerns students may have had and to look at ways to improve for next year.

“We certainly can look at it again… we’ve done that in the past and we’ve gotten good feedback, generally, from the Student Council,” he said.

In short, Student Council should look to finance Teacher Appreciation in a way that does not exclusively burden one group of twenty-odd students and their families. I hope that this issue was addressed during Student Council’s meeting following the Teacher Appreciation Week.