As COVID-19 forced a dramatic cultural shift in how we learn, work and socialize, it also shines a spotlight on the undeniable importance of teachers. At FullBloom, we are laser-focused on helping the most vulnerable youth. This wouldn’t be possible without our team of 5,000 educators across the country who have an unwavering commitment to supporting the educational and healthcare needs of every child and family we serve.

As Teacher Appreciation Week comes to a close – in what is no ordinary school year – it is my great honor to recognize the devotion and tireless efforts of our teachers, but also all the other important individuals who make our schools, in-district classrooms and behavioral health centers places where children can thrive. Counselors, Social Workers, Nurses, Behavioral Therapists, Technicians, Behavior Specialists, Transition Coordinators, Coaches, Assistant Teachers and on and on … it truly takes a village to ensure children are equipped with the knowledge and skills to succeed in and out of the classroom.

Parents are getting a crash course in home schooling and have a new perspective on what it really takes to deliver high quality instruction for several hours every day. They are also realizing that teachers do so much more than teach. Teachers play a critical role in shaping every aspect of our children. In addition to generating scholastic and social growth, teachers build self-esteem, expand horizons and open new opportunities for our kids. And at FullBloom, our team members achieve all of this despite the significant challenges our students face.

If you look at the role of an educator over the decades, you will see an expanded portfolio of responsibilities. Communities have come to rely on schools for more than education, including extended day programs, healthcare services, and, in many cases, meals. Our society’s reliance on the education system makes the teachers and other professionals working in schools a critical cog in the wheel that moves our entire economy forward. Our education system does not work without teachers. And our economy does not work without our education system.

Our educators make outstanding contributions in the lives of students – and their families. They work with parents to ensure practices that are helping our students at school can be implemented at home. As a team, we understand that collaboration can be critical to ensuring students get everything they need to reach their potential.

Finally, when we are ready to open our schools, we need to support our teachers who will become the next frontline workers of the COVID-19 outbreak. For many of us, we see the efforts to transition to remote learning as heroic. Imagine when 50 million children go back to the classroom. Our company employs more than 5,000 teachers across the country and I can tell you, we never thought of the profession as one that comes with significant health risks. But, in the coming weeks, we will ask teachers to return to school and put themselves in harm’s way so that the rest of us can get back to work and reignite our economy. They will heed the call to serve, as they always do.

When that happens, I hope we galvanize the same kind of national support for teachers that we show for the essential workers today. We are about to see our teachers as the true heroes they are. An official Appreciation Week will not be enough. Without them, there will be no economic recovery.

– Jeff Cohen, CEO, FullBloom