Although school was in session, the classrooms were empty Monday morning at Naples Elementary School.

The stands at the school’s football stadium however, were packed.

More than 900 students, faculty and volunteers gathered for a special assembly kicking off the start of Teacher Appreciation Week.

Capt. Floyd Hehe, commanding officer for Naval Support Activity Naples, even turned out for the event. He told the students he owed a large part of his success to his teachers.

“Sometimes they were tough when I needed them to be tough, and sometimes they were really caring when I needed just the extra help,” Hehe said. “And I know all of your teachers are doing those things for you today.”

This year’s events at Naples Elementary School were coordinated by Eva Shinka, co-chair of the Naples PTA.

“We need to recognize the teachers and the staff because the special things they do on a daily basis have a great impact on our children’s education,” Shinka said. “The students get excited because we involve them with all the activities planned throughout the week.”

The observance is celebrated nationally — May 4-10 — with Teacher Appreciation Day marked this year on Tuesday. It began when Arkansas teacher Mattye White Woodbridge wrote to Eleanor Roosevelt about recognition for educators.

In 1953 Congress established the first official National Teacher Day, and in 1985, the National PTA established Teacher Appreciation Week, usually held the first full week of May, according to the National Education Association Web site.

While the Naples students enjoyed a break from the classroom, they felt it was important to show the teachers that their efforts were valued.

“They make it fun to learn,” said Julianne Harris, a fifth-grader at Naples Elementary.

“It’s good to show them that they’re appreciated, and that their hard work isn’t spent.” And when asked what she thought made a teacher’s job difficult, Julianne didn’t hesitate.

“The kids.”

Sign Up for Daily Headlines

Sign up to receive a daily email of today's top military news stories from Stars and Stripes and top news outlets from around the world.

Sign Up Now