Sunday School Teacher Appreciation Day is a national day that is celebrated on the third Sunday of October every year, falling on October 17 this year. Sunday school teachers are not always formally trained teachers; instead, they’re often regular people who decide to dedicate their time to teach kids about their faith.
History of Sunday School Teacher Appreciation Day
In 1993, Gospel Light, a Christian literature publisher, decided to set aside a day to celebrate Sunday school teachers across the country. This is how Sunday School Teacher Appreciation Day was born, and today it is celebrated annually in the U.S.
Sunday schools aren’t always formal schools or institutions. In 18th-century England, Sunday schools were set up to offer education to children who were forced to work. Today they are classes offered by the church on Sundays either before or after mass to teach children and sometimes adults about Christianity.
A lot of churches have classrooms attached to the main worship hall that is used for Sunday School. The curriculum is usually pre-designed and there is a formal structure in place for teaching, as well as competitions and other extra-curricular activities associated with the church.
In America, the first Sunday school was set up in 1799 by a man referred to as the Father of the American Industrial Revolution, Samuel Slater, in Pawtucket, Rhode Island, which spurred on the American Sunday school movement. Later, a philanthropist, Lewis Miller, developed the ‘Akron Plan’ to design the layout of churches to include Sunday schools.
Sunday school teachers are usually volunteers who may or may not be selected by the church. They offer their time willingly to teach children about their faith and values for life. Because of this, Sunday school teachers frequently end up being an active and important part of the lives of their students.
These teachers may have formal training in education, but typically do not. The church may offer some training in catechism so that teachers have some familiarity with the curriculum and how it should be taught to their students. Sunday school teachers are also expected to be people of good character and upstanding members of the community.
Sunday School Teacher Appreciation Day timeline
William King establishes the first Sunday school in England to offer working children an education.
Samuel Slater sets up the first Sunday school for young boys working in his cotton factory
Until this point, Sunday school classes had been taken in the afternoons.
The publisher selects the third Sunday of October to celebrate the dedication of Sunday School Teachers across the country.
Sunday School Teacher Appreciation Day FAQs
Is this Teacher Appreciation Day?
No, Teacher Appreciation Day is celebrated in May. Sunday School Teacher Appreciation Day is set aside especially for Sunday school teachers.
Do you need an education degree to be a Sunday school teacher?
Sunday school teachers are usually not formally trained in education. They can sometimes be volunteers who offer their time or are selected by the church. In some cases, pastors may be Sunday school teachers as well.
Can you nominate your Sunday school teacher for an award?
Gospel Light invites nominations for their Henrietta Mears Sunday School Teacher of the Year Award every year. Everyone can send in nominations for their favorite Sunday school teacher.
How to Observe Sunday School Teacher Appreciation Day
Reach out to your old Sunday school teacher
If you had a Sunday school teacher that made a positive impact on you, make contact with them and show your appreciation for them.
Make a card with your class
Get together with your Sunday school class and make a card for your teacher. You can all write notes telling your teacher why you think they’re great.
Celebrate it in church
Sunday School Teacher Appreciation Day is a great way to involve the entire community in celebrating the dedication and hard work of all the Sunday school teachers in your church.
5 Interesting Facts About Sunday School
It wasn’t always faith-based
Sunday school was not always the religious education it is today — initially, it was a way to teach reading and arithmetic to boys who could not afford to go to school.
There’s an award for Sunday school teachers
Gospel Light offers the Henrietta Mears Sunday School Teacher of the Year Award, in honor of its founder, Christian educator Dr. Henrietta Mears.
The day has been acknowledged in the Senate
Sunday School Teacher Appreciation Day is not a national holiday, but a Minnesota Senator made special mention of it in 1999.
Famous people have taught Sunday School
Including talk-show host Stephen Colbert and former U.S. President Jimmy Carter.
There are numerous Sunday school resources
LifeWay Christian Resources, David C Cook, and Group Publishing are good examples.
Why Sunday School Teacher Appreciation Day is Important
Sunday school teachers deserve love
We don’t always think of Sunday school teachers on Teacher’s Day, so it is important to have a day to appreciate them.
Sunday school teachers change lives
They may not be formally trained, but Sunday school teachers still teach important values that guide children through their lives.
It can spur a community celebration
It’s a great excuse for the entire church to get together and have a gathering to appreciate teachers and all their hard work.
Sunday School Teacher Appreciation Day dates