While many schools might be out for the summer, Dr. Soyini Richards and the leadership at Teachers Fest recognize it is important to acknowledge the hard work of educators year-round.
With a food, fun, and fashion-filled event, Teachers Fest – a nonprofit organization group of educators, administrators, entrepreneurs and other career disciplines – hosted its third annual gala on Friday, July 7 at the Sunset Room in National Harbor, Maryland. As drinks poured, food flowed, and an entertaining fashion show engaged the audience, the true emphasis remained on highlighting the integral and incredible work of local educators.
“I really take joy in the community coming together to celebrate educators,” said Teachers Fest founder Dr. Soyini Richards, a business and school psychologist and psychology professor. “It’s a vision God put in my heart and to see it come to fruition like this is a blessing. I’m a third-generation educator. I’ve been grading papers since I was 8.”
Through awards presentations, and a good time, the purpose of Teachers Fest is to uplift the integral work of educators. Much of the evening was a reminder that without educators, many of the guests wouldn’t be present in that room.
“Educators are like the core of our community,” Richards told The Informer. “Our motto is ‘What would the world be without teachers?’”
With guests donning dapper suits and stunning gowns, the gala also featured the likes of local journalists and media personalities Darren Haynes and Guy Lambert, who added their engaging hosting to the night’s affair. Celebrity makeup artist Derrick Rutledge was also among some of the area’s game-changing guests and dignitaries present for the event.
“Since the inception of this event, I told Dr. Richards, it was important for me to be a part of this, especially because I grew up in a family of educators- my mother, who’s in heaven, my aunt, who’s in heaven, my cousin, my sister, but they all were teachers that led to principals. My brother still teaches, my sister’s a special [education] teacher,” said Rutledge. “Education is very important.”
While the evening celebrated the wonderful work of teachers, and honored several individuals for their exceptional service, there was also a clear acknowledgment of the major sacrifices involved to have a career in education.
“So often what we don’t talk about when it comes to education is the emotional labor,” said SEIU Local 500 President Pia Morrison. “We also don’t talk about the compensation.”
While Morrison acknowledged hard truths in education, she also offered personal gratitude.
“Teachers are underpaid and underappreciated in this society and they’re doing more than ever… It’s not OK,” Morrison said. “But I love you, I respect you, I appreciate the investments that you all make.”
The SEIU Local 500 leader reminded educators of their power.
“What you all pour into students,” Morrison emphasized, “is so meaningful and valuable, because what happens is: when you pour into them, they pour out into society.”