Racine honors teachers with Encore Awards: 'Just a little something to say thank you'

RACINE -- Normally at the end of Teacher Appreciation Week in May, the Racine Unified School District honors its Encore Award winner -- given to those that excel at their jobs. This year's celebration may not be what is normal. But it was a small token of appreciation that goes a long way.

Emily DeBaker

"Just a little something to say thank you for everything that they've done for the year and to congratulate them on their award," said Emily DeBaker of the Racine Unified School District.

Encore Award winners paraded on Wednesday, July 15 -- not down Main Street, but into the parking lot. It was all in recognition of their work to go above and beyond their everyday duties.

Among those honored was Valerie Freeman, robotics, manufacturing, and engineering teacher at Park High School. She was honored for her work teaching hands-on subjects from behind a screen.

"I think it's about hope, you know, and letting the teachers know that even though we're in a pandemic, and things are strange and unprecedented, that we still need to acknowledge the teachers because we don't know what's going to happen moving forward," Freeman said.

So this year, the plaque, a quick photo, and a new district cooler serve as a reminder that no matter what, there is always room to celebrate.

"In March, all of us had to immediately change our daily routines and do things that we've never done before. And so, we kinda figured there's no better way to say thank you to, especially our Encore Award winners than to hold some type of celebration for them," DeBaker said.

This is the ninth year Racine Unified has given out the Encore Awards. Around 80 employees were chosen as winners this year.