Local educators recently enjoyed an evening set aside just for them.
Last week brought the annual Crystal Apple Teacher Recognition Awards. Presented by the Garden City Area Chamber of Commerce, the ceremony has become an anticipated event in recognizing the work of teachers in Finney County.
Of six finalists for this year's Crystal Apple award, Rod Willis of Buffalo Jones Elementary School, Adam Cassellius of Garden City High School and Andrea Baker of Garfield Early Childhood Center collected top honors, and took home a laptop computer, $1,000 cash award and a crystal apple.
Three other finalists — Diane Smith of Buffalo Jones, Emily Hamlin of Holcomb High School and Debbie Adler of Jennie Barker Elementary School — each received a $250 prize and certificate of accomplishment.
They also were treated to well-deserved praise and appreciation during the ceremony.
Such recognition is all the more important considering the challenge of recruiting and retaining good teachers. Teachers, after all, often have the opportunity to leave their schools for more money in the private sector.
They also face the pressure of helping schoolchildren achieve changing academic standards, and must further their own education as a way to give students the foundation they need to succeed.
As part of the education mission, much attention has been focused on dollars required to give every child an excellent education.
Unfortunately, the conservative Republican regime in Topeka stands ready to make more state cuts to public education. Our representatives have to acknowledge the ability of education to make communities stronger and more viable, and fight for adequate funding.
In the midst of such conflict and challenges, we also should remember the simple act of thanking our teachers. Communities should embrace such creative ways as Crystal Apple to honor educators, whose efforts often go unnoticed.
During the recent awards banquet, a number of current teachers and past Crystal Apple winners had an opportunity to bask in the spotlight.
All good teachers — true professionals who have chosen the demanding work of inspiring children to do great things — deserve such high praise and support year-round.