Commonwealth Thanks Educators for Extraordinary Year

teacher covidImage by Alexandra Koch

HARRISBURG, PA— After a year of overcoming challenges and going above and beyond during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) is celebrating teachers across the state for their dedication to ensure every student has the tools to reach their full potential.

“There could not be a more appropriate time to thank a teacher for their resilience, hard work, and persistence throughout this year. As an educator, I have seen how students gain inspiration and become encouraged through their lessons,” said Acting Secretary of Education Noe Ortega. “During Teacher Appreciation Week, let’s take a moment to remind our educators how valuable they are to our students’ success, and that their efforts are commended by PDE year-round.”

To celebrate National Teacher Appreciation Week, the Pennsylvania Department of Education released a series of video messages on social media this week from Governor Tom Wolf, Second Lady Gisele Fetterman, Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year Joe Welch, Acting Secretary of Education Noe Ortega, and Acting Deputy Secretary and Commissioner for Postsecondary and Higher Education Dr. Tanya I. Garcia. The video messages recognize Pennsylvania’s current and future educators for their work and the lifelong impact they make on students. This year’s national proclamation lauds education from the Biden Administration. First Lady Dr. Jill Biden is a current community college educator.

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PDE participates in or coordinates various programs that recognize educators for their contributions to students and the profession year-round. The Pennsylvania Teacher of the Year Program recognizes excellence in teaching by honoring K-12 teachers in public education who have made outstanding academic contributions to Pennsylvania’s school-aged children. Due to the pandemic, the Teacher of the Year selection process was placed on hold. As a result, the 2021 Teacher of the Year finalists are now the finalists for Pennsylvania’s 2022 Teacher of the Year. PDE invites students, families, and community members to honor and recognize educator achievements at any time by submitting a nomination for Pennsylvania’s Teacher of the Year.

A primary goal of the Wolf Administration has been to ensure access to high-quality education for all Pennsylvanians, and Governor Wolf has included measures in each of his budget addresses to ensure opportunities for students and educators continue to be supported. Since Governor Wolf has taken office, education has seen an additional $1.4 billion in programs from high-quality pre-kindergarten through postsecondary opportunities for students. In his most recent proposal, the governor included an additional $200 million for basic education, $30 million for high-quality early childhood education; and $200 million in special education.

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For more information about Pennsylvania’s education policies and programs, please visit the Department of Education’s website at

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