A few years ago, the Board of Directors of the Greater Flagstaff Chamber of Commerce met to discuss possible initiatives it could invest its time and work in to better our community. While several ideas were discussed, the one that met with instant universal support was finding a way to help our teachers, who work tremendously long hours and often feel underappreciated.
How can businesses expect world-class education across our state, it was asked, if we do not invest in and recognize those that inspire, motivate and lead students? How can we honor those professionals who serve as one of the most influential forces in our children’s - and our future employee’s - lives?
As a result of that dynamic and passionate discussion, a terrific new Chamber initiative was born: Flagstaff Values Teachers.
Flagstaff Values Teachers (FVT) incorporates a three-pronged approach to supply teachers with the items they need in their classrooms, provide low-cost professional development, and a wonderful business discount card with sizable breaks from local businesses. Hopefully, these gestures will give a morale boost to local teachers and ensure that they feel appreciated.
“We are really excited about providing ways for our local business community to honor local educators,” said Board Chairman Guillermo Cortes. “K-12 teachers lay the critical foundation for educational attainment.”
FVT’s teacher discount card helps ease the financial burden that many teachers feel by offering them special savings at more than 100 Chamber businesses. More than 400 teachers have enrolled in the discount card initiative. Meanwhile, our partnership with APS and Lessons2Life provides low-cost professional development through on-site meetings with local business owners and managers about the skills businesses are looking for when they hire.
Lastly, in August, Suddenlink and the Chamber host a three day teacher supply drive at the two WalMarts in town. Last year’s drive secured more than $43,000 worth of supplies. It is our hope that this will grow annually and that no teacher will have to pay out of their own pocket for classroom supplies. Every student deserves a fully supplied classroom to optimize learning.
No matter what kind of student you were, you probably remember at least one outstanding teacher who was passionate about your achievement and who made a big impression on you. Teacher Appreciation Week is a fabulous time to take a moment to reflect on how important teachers are to you, your family, your business, our community and more. Send a card with your student to his or her teacher, celebrate teachers on your favorite social media platform, invite a teacher to dinner at your house! Those small steps could be the start of something big - making sure our local educators know just how much they are valued.