ATWATER — On their special day Tuesday, teachers got more than just a pat on the back.
As part of National Teacher Appreciation Day, instructors at Buhach Colony High School in Atwater were treated to a spa day, which included massages, pedicures, manicures and other pampering.
Shirley Schmidt-Murphy, a Buhach Colony art teacher, was bowled over by the gesture, a tradition for the last three years at the school.
"The massage was great; I loved it, and what a treat," Schmidt-Murphy said. "The spa day is fabulous. I think that the teachers and staff feel incredibly pampered and cared about by the staff and students that provide this treat. The community of beauty and relaxation experts are very generous to make the trip to our school, set up the required equipment and bring smiles to our faces all day."
Other area schools paid tribute to teachers or are planning to honor them at special events this week and next.
Kim Holl, an English teacher at Buhach Colony, said she certainly feels appreciated.
"What a lot of people don't realize is that teaching is not only intellectually challenging but can be physically demanding as well," Holl said. "It was such a treat to set aside grades and lesson plans to relax for a moment. A quick massage, a pretty pedi and a delicious snack can only lead to a happier teacher, which can only be reflected in their teaching."
The spa day, which lasted from 7:30 a.m. to 2:45 p.m., was coordinated by activities director Elizabeth Phonesavanh, who contacted her esthetician friend and her colleagues who volunteered massages, pedicures, facials and other spa treatments.
"The teachers absolutely love it," Phonesavanh said. "We plan a year ahead to give back to teachers for all they do."
Melinda Crooks, an English teacher at Buhach Colony, also loves the spa day.
"Though teachers are often told 'thank you,' rarely are such gestures made," Crooks said. "It warms my heart to know that people in our community see what we do and appreciate our efforts."
Teachers will be honored today at Merced's John C. Fremont Charter School with gifts and food provided by administrators and the Parent Teacher Club. Principal Trisha Wylie expects parents to send food treats to teachers with their children.
Paula Heupel, Chenoweth Elementary School principal, said special thank-you notes and cookies were provided Tuesday for teachers, and the Parent Teacher Club would be holding a breakfast for them next week.
"We want to let them know they are so appreciated for the hard work they do," Heupel said.
John Muir School Principal Matt Johnston said the 26 teachers and staff members would be feted at a special luncheon Monday at the school.
Catherine Puckett, principal at Stefani Elementary School, said a luncheon hosted by the Parent Teacher Club would be held Thursday in the teacher lounge to honor the 18 teachers and two dozen support staff members.
"Oh my gosh, we couldn't do what we do without them," Puckett said.
Atwater High School Principal Alan Peterson said teachers will be honored at a luncheon Friday.
Merced High School Principal John Olson said student leaders provided a continental breakfast for teachers all day Tuesday in the teacher's lounge. Bagels, juice, coffee and doughnuts will be supplied today and teachers will be honored at a faculty meeting.
Tenaya Middle School Principal Tara Bright said the school's 40 teachers and 40 classified workers will be honored at a May 15 staff appreciation luncheon.
Cesar Hernandez, Stowell Elementary School principal, said the school's 21 teachers would be recognized at a special breakfast next week.
At Golden Valley High School, activities director Austin Worden said leadership students placed a flier with candies in each teacher's box and wrote personal notes to teachers who made a difference in their high school career.
Dalinda Saich, Ada Givens School principal, said the 58 school staff members, including 25 teachers, would be honored Friday at a special luncheon.
The Merced County Farm Bureau will host a Teacher Appreciation Wine and Cheese Event on Friday between 4 and 7 p.m. at the Merced Fruit Barn on East Highway 140.
Farm Bureau officials said teachers can enjoy wine, cheese and appetizers while learning about the county's agriculture and creative ways to incorporate ag into the classroom.
The Merced City School District will honor all its employees at a May 17 barbecue at Lake Yosemite.
Tom Torlakson, state superintendent of public instruction, took the occasion to stress the importance of teachers. He said they often are the greatest champions that children have inspiring and motivating them to do their best.
Reporter Doane Yawger can be reached at (209) 385-2407 or firstname.lastname@example.org.