You may have seen the full-page ad in today's Observer directing people to thankstoateacher.com. "It's a tough time to be a teacher," the copy says. "With virtually no raise for five years, looming larger class sizes, the loss of many teaching assistants, the end of salary increases for advanced degrees, and the continual charge to do more with less, it's more important than ever to express appreciation for those who labor in our classrooms.
The web page asks people to write and post short tributes to teachers who changed their lives. Neither the ad nor the web site says anything about who's behind it, other than to credit The Creative Stack for designing the web page. But Heather Johnson at Creative Stack gave me the answer.
Turns out John Tate, a longtime Charlotte education advocate who's a member of the N.C. Board of Education, started talking to people this summer about "ways to say thanks because we couldn't give them money." He says about 130 people wrote checks for the campaign to let teachers know how much of a difference they make. Jennifer Appleby, president of Wray Ward advertising agency, created today's ad and another that's slated to run Sunday, which Tate says is "poignant."
Tate wanted to highlight the challenging conditions that are emerging in our state, but he says there's a reason he didn't make his name prominent. "I worked hard to depoliticize this ad. It is not a backhand swipe at anybody," Tate said. "It's designed very simply just to say thanks and let the teaching ranks know there are a lot of people who support them."
Tate declined to say how much the campaign is costing. And he said he won't know for a few days how many views and testimonials the site is generating.