HAWTHORNE – This time of year it isn’t uncommon for welcome back to school nights and open houses for students and parents. But in Hawthorne, teachers are the recipients of a special annual welcome back to school celebration. Teachers in a small town can sometimes be overlooked as important members of their community, said the Hawthorne PTA president. However, the city of Hawthorne is dedicated to prevent this from happening in their community.

Heather Surrency, president of the local PTA, has worked to put together a Teacher Appreciation Day every year for several years. Assuring Hawthorne teachers they are supported is important to her, she said.

“They have low funding and show incredible commitment,” Surrency said. “Showing them our support and offering both old and new teachers some insight into hidden areas in Hawthorne is the least we can do.”

This year’s event took place at the Little Orange Creek Nature Park Tuesday, and was attended by some 70 teachers and staff from both Shell Elementary School and Hawthorne Middle/High School. The park is not yet open, but a special charter was granted to allow Little Orange Creek to host the event.

All of the teachers were served lunch and sat inside chatting and enjoying the new nature park. Following lunch they were walked around the grounds and explored the venue.

“It’s a beautiful area and we really are lucky to have this support behind us all,” said Sue Bruce, a front office employee at Shell Elementary. “It’s exciting to see the park open and to have something new to advance the city.”

The city has tried to offer this type of day for its teachers for at least the last 15 years, hoping that they feel the dedication Hawthorne has in fostering growth in the community, said Surrency. So far, the effort has not gone unnoticed.

“It means a lot to everyone that they care about what we do and want to help in any way,” said Pam Guttormsen, a media center assistant from Hawthorne Middle/High School. “We have a common goal to put Hawthorne back on the map.”

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