By Expect More Arizona

For parents, May marks two important occasions: Teacher Appreciation Week and children’s graduations. But May 2020 has brought unique challenges to marking these special dates.Because we know that:

  • Arizona’s teachers – from preschool through college – are amazing. In every corner of our state, educators continue to give their all to support student success
  • Arizona’s spring 2020 graduates worked really hard to reach this milestone, whether they have completed high school, a PhD or anything in between.

Arizona will be coalescing behind two dates:

  • Tuesday, May 5, 2020 – Arizona Teacher Appreciation Day
  • Wednesday, May 20, 2020 – Arizona Graduate Recognition Day

Just because the celebrations will be different, doesn’t mean they can’t be bigger than ever! We hope that Arizona schools, colleges, individuals and families find innovative ways to honor both educators and graduates.

Before the community can rally behind teachers or graduates, they have to know where they are. While Arizonans continue to shelter in place, many are walking or biking in their neighborhoods. Here are some ideas on how to identify if you have an educator or graduate in the house:

    • Decorate the front door, yard, trees and bushes with school colors
    • Decorate cars with school colors
    • Make a homemade banner
  • “A Spring 2020 grad lives here” or “Soon to be a [fill in school]alum”
  • “A[third grade] teacher lives here” or “Proud to teach at [school/day care/college]!
    • Use a shipping box as a yard sign (or window sign) to celebrate a graduate
    • Make a homemade cap and gown to wear on May 20
    • AZ Ed News has created a digital yearbook for graduating high school seniors. Add your picture!

Next up? Celebrations! There are countless ways to make your graduates and teachers feel appreciated, but here are some places to start:

  • Chalk your driveway or the sidewalk in front of your house with encouraging messages for grads and notes of appreciation for teachers
    • Consider personalizing the messages with the names of teachers or grads
    • If you live near a canal or park where you often walk, consider chalking there!
    • Here’s a great recipe for homemade, washable sidewalk paint
  • Display the colors of your neighborhood school(s)
  • Download and print one of our signsand display in a window or on a front door
  • Make homemade yard signs or banners
  • Orchestrate a block driveway party to celebrate graduates
    • Share messages of congratulations/recognition on social media using the appropriate hashtag:
  • Support this year’s seniors by sharing your senior year picture (no matter how old you are) on social media as a tribute to the Class of 2020 graduates
  • Families (or graduating classes) could coordinate a virtual graduation party; create school-themed virtual backgrounds that all students can use
  • Orchestrate a neighborhood parade of cars, or simply decorate your own car with signs, balloons, bells, etc. and drive around your neighborhood
  • Orchestrate a time for everyone in your neighborhood or on your block to come outside and bang pots and pans and or clap or play celebratory music
  • If your family picks up meals at school for your children, consider decorating your car for teacher appreciation
  • Send a virtual e-card to your favorite graduate or teachers (American GreetingsPunchbowlBlue Mountain, and Paperless Postall have free e-card options)
  • Use TikTokto issue a celebration challenge to showcase your dance skill and include the appropriate hashtags
  • Connect with other 2020 graduates on Instagram account @AZClassof2020(run by student body presidents across the state)

While we anticipate a return to normal, we can ensure that graduates’ accomplishments are honored, and teachers’ sacrifices are appreciated. Even families without graduates or teachers in the home should participate!

Expect More Arizona is a nonprofit, nonpartisan advocacy organization bringing communities together to create positive change in education at all levels. Learn more at



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