Remake Learning's celebratED event at the O'Reilly Theater, Sept. 23 2019. Photo by Tracy Certo.

The work of classroom teachers used to be something many of us only glimpsed from a distance.

Parents and caregivers would visit on back-to-school nights. They’d drop in for parent-teacher conferences once or twice a year. And occasionally, they might spend a few minutes chatting with a teacher during a school concert or sporting event.

But beyond these brief interactions, most of us had little exposure to the daily work of classroom teachers  — or the work of principals, superintendents, sports coaches, after-school educators and many others who quietly support our kids’ learning journeys.

Lately, though, millions of parents and caregivers have a new and eye-opening view of their children’s education. So they might be delighted to discover that there is a global holiday celebrating teachers, and it’s coming up in just a few days.

World Teachers’ Day was inaugurated in 1994 by UNESCO. Held each year on October 5, UNESCO describes it as “a day to celebrate the teaching profession worldwide, take stock of achievements and draw attention to the voices of teachers, who are at the heart of efforts to attain the global education target of leaving no one behind.”

Those efforts will be honored this year during a free, public event called “CelebratED 2020: A Virtual Celebration.” Based in Pittsburgh but available to families and educators worldwide, this hour-long event will happen during six showtimes (8 a.m. through 10 p.m. ET) on October 5. Details and reservations are available here.

The six showtimes will function as a sort of rolling party throughout the day and evening. Each hour will be kicked off by a DJ set from Pittsburgh Dilworth PreK-5 teacher Joseph Wilk, followed by performances from the Alumni Theater Company and storyteller Shannon Reed, along with a keynote address from Deepak Ramola of Project FUEL.

While some of these segments will be prerecorded, each showtime will include a live chat session where adults and kids can publicly thank educators they appreciate. Visitors will also be invited to share learning resources and discuss innovative approaches to teaching and learning — in keeping with the theme of this year’s World Teachers’ Day, which is “Teachers: Leading in crisis, reimagining the future.”

One goal of the event is “to highlight the opportunities for things we can do today to build a wonderful tomorrow for educators and children,” says D’Ann Swanson, senior program officer at The Grable Foundation, which is sponsoring the event. “So we’re really excited to hear what people have to say.”

That focus on building a better future for all learners was central to last year’s CelebratED event as well. At that event, Lasse Leponiemi, co-founder and executive director of the Finnish nonprofit HundrED, unveiled a report and documentary video series honoring 12 educational programs selected as the most innovative, impactful and scalable in the Pittsburgh region.

“Since 2015, HundrED has been searching the world for the most inspiring innovations in education,” Leponiemi told a crowd of several hundred during the 2019 CelebratED event. “Something remarkable is happening in Pittsburgh. The depth and breadth of innovation in your schools universities, and neighborhoods deserves to be known worldwide. The innovations selected for the HundrED Spotlight on Pittsburgh have been proven locally, but they are also inspiring in a global context.”

This year’s CelebratED event will highlight the voices of educators, parents and students. The event is happening in conjunction with the #RemakeTomorrow campaign, which explores how communities can make the future a more promising place for all learners.

Students on stage at Remake Learning’s CelebratED event at the O’Reilly Theater on September 23, 2019. Photo by Tracy Certo.
Students on stage at Remake Learning’s CelebratED event at the O’Reilly Theater on September 23, 2019. Photo by Tracy Certo.

That same focus on the future will be central to another event happening this month: the national New Frontiers virtual summit, being held October 19-20.

At this cross-sector gathering, leaders in science, technology, education, cultural institutions, community organizations, public agencies and philanthropy will explore the ways they might work together to build a more equitable future. The public portion of the summit will include a plenary address by Arati Prabhakar, the former head of DARPA, on October 20.

New Frontiers, organized by the Association of Science and Technology Centers (ASTC), will include discussions about innovations in education and lifelong learning — and the new technologies and scientific approaches we might create to make deeper and more equitable learning a reality.

“Imagine what will be possible if all people, at all ages, have the tools to create these advanced, futuristic technologies and sciences. What happens when we actually put creative tools and scientific tools in the hands of young people in a way that is possible now, but that’s never been possible before,” asks Christofer Nelson, chief operating officer at ASTC.

New Frontiers will explore these questions, with a focus on equity. Because, as Nelson says, “If we’re going to realize that vision of a more equitable tomorrow, we’re going to do that by having all players at the table.”

Melissa Rayworth

Kidsburgh Editor Melissa Rayworth specializes in stories about culture, gender, design and parenting. She has written for a variety of outlets in the U.S. and Asia, and is a frequent contributor to The...