Valley teachers get big surprise for Teacher Appreciation Week

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by Tami Hoey

Video report by Heidi Goitia

Posted on May 6, 2014 at 1:03 PM

Updated Tuesday, May 6 at 1:17 PM

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Many schools are celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week this week, taking the chance to say thank you to our wonderful educators who spend all day, every day with our kids.

Typically students and parents mark Teacher Appreciation Week by sending in hand-written notes and letters, flowers, sweet treats, or other goodies to their teachers.

But three Valley teachers got a little something extra on Tuesday morning, thanks to Valley Honda dealers.

In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, May 5-9, 2014, the Helpful Valley Honda Dealers and the Guys in Blue are celebrating the efforts of three deserving school teachers and role models from Mesa, Glendale, and Phoenix.

Based on the teacher's unique strengths and academic efforts, each winner was presented with $5,000 worth of much needed technology, art supplies, reading materials and more, to help them further their high-impact helpfulness in classrooms across the Valley.

New figures from the Arizona Auditor General's Office show that less than 54 cents out of every education dollar was put into actual classroom spending last year, forcing teachers to make do with limited resources. This year, Teacher Appreciation Week has more meaning than ever, especially to those individuals who work hard to ensure their students have a memorable school experience, and whose impact extends well beyond the classroom.

3TV was there Tuesday morning as one of those deserving teachers got his surprise award!

Sidney Thomas is a 7th and 8th Grade Science Teacher at  Landmark Elementary School in Glendale.
Thomas has spent his entire 30-year teaching career at Landmark.

We're told he creates science lessons that are engaging, motivating and interesting for all of his students. And the majority of his lessons are so-called "constructivist" lessons in which students learn by doing and discovering. Unfortunately, there are not always funds for the resources that he needs and many times will purchase the resources out of his own pocket. 

Mr. Thomas is also actively involved in school events, like reading night and supporting the school's sporting teams. Every year, he awards his best-performing student with a Scholarship Gift Card, to help them purchase books and materials at the local high school, and he pays for that gift card with his own money.

Thomas' wife, Madonna, says she is very proud of her husband. "He deserves this. He loves what he does," she says. "I'm so proud of him."

Also honored Tuesday were Diane Bamper, a kindergarten teacher at Hawthorne Elementary School in Mesa, and Karen Bell-Zinn, an art teacher at Washington High School in Phoenix.

For more information on Helpful Honda,  please visit www.facebook.com/ValleyHondaDealers.

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