When you think about the people who influenced you the most as you were growing up, a teacher is likely included on your list.

Most of us could name that special instructor who inspired, challenged, motivated, provoked or otherwise had a transformative effect on our lives. Someone we remember fondly and think, “I was so lucky they were part of my life.”

Even though physical school buildings are closed, learning hasn’t stopped, and teachers are being revealed among the “quiet heroes” who are having an enormous impact during these unprecendent times. Educators’ commitment to our children remains steadfast and constant just as much as ever.

“Teacher Appreciation Week” is May 4 – 8 and this year, it takes on even more meaning as we see how thoroughly teachers are forces for good in the lives of kids and in each of our communities. With parents shouldering part of the responsibility of home schooling right now, many are expressing even greater thanks for the role of a teacher.

Writer and Producer Shonda Rhimes recently tweeted, “Been homeschooling a 6-year old and 8-year old for one hour and 11 minutes. Teachers deserve to make a billion dollars a year. Or a week.”

Even with parents pitching in, teachers are among the heroes on the front lines making sure children are learning. Educators are getting creative with digital technology to deliver lessons, organize fun activities, make sure classmates stay connected with their friends and peers, and send reassuring messages of hope and optimism.

Today’s classrooms have assorted individual settings, and educators are tapping unconventional resources to conduct daily sessions, including:

  • Sharing online DIY science exercises, such as the soap and pepper experiment to show younger kids how to properly wash their hands.
  • Training the next generation of journalists, historians and educators to capture this moment in time by keeping communications journals.
  • Leading gym classes while standing outside of students’ homes.
  • Producing TikTok videos to entertain kids and help relieve stress and anxiety.

Teachers are also going the extra mile to make sure no child is left behind. For those who still can’t connect digitally, educators are using the old-fashioned methods to reach those kids – gathering books and assembling paper packages of lessons; checking in with students by phone; even making house calls.

What all of us are learning is just how profound the relationship between teacher and student really is. It goes far beyond lessons and grades. Teachers provide structure, comfort, guidance and stability—they have and always will be heroes.

At Equitable, we are privileged to serve nearly 800,000 educators in the K-12 public school market. We are inspired and humbled by the educators across our country who have found new ways to reach, support and engage students, despite this very challenging environment.

This week and well beyond the end of this crisis, let’s always remember to acknowledge and honor the vital role educators play, both in our children’s lives and our own.

And, to all the educators who help shape minds, enrich spirits, broaden world views and even entertain, thank you for caring and being invested in our children’s growth and success. We are forever indebted to you.