Special to The Explorer
Tucson Values Teachers, a regional initiative to help recruit, retain and reward K-12 teachers in Pima County, has formed a partnership with local businesses to provide product and service discounts to local educators.
More than 10,000 public, private and charter school teachers are receiving a "Summer Breaks for Teachers" card in their school mailboxes. By presenting the card with a valid teacher ID or a recent pay stub at a participating business, teachers can immediately get discounts on goods and services such as cars, furniture, food, hotel services and gym memberships.
A wide range of businesses has offered to reduce costs, including Jim Click Automotives, Maynard's Market & Kitchen, Loews Ventana Canyon Resort and YMCA of Southern Arizona. Others such as Magpies Gourmet Pizza, Metro Restaurants and El Charro Café are offering free entrées and rounds of golf.
Jacquelyn Jackson, executive director of Tucson Values Teachers, said the Summer Breaks card is her organization's "thank-you" card for all teachers.
"This has been a hard year on everybody involved in K-12 education, with looming budget cuts and increases in class sizes," Jackson said. "With teachers being asked to do more with less, Tucson Values Teachers and the participating businesses wanted to give each teacher a token of our gratitude."
"During this time of economic turbulence, it is encouraging that Tucson Values Teachers, a community partnership, is creating innovative ways to show teachers how much they are valued and what a vital role they play in the success of our students, our community and our future," said Doug Wilson, superintendent of the Marana Unified School District.
At the Summer Breaks for Teachers unveiling ceremony held Tuesday at Prince Elementary School in Tucson, Mayor Robert Walkup said the discounts program reveals the strength of the region when the community comes together.
"Without the community's help to ensure we are providing the best education for students and the best working and living environment for teachers, this effort will not be able to succeed," Walkup said. "It will take everybody's help to assure the growth of the Tucson Values Teachers campaign."
Jackson said expanded industry internships, housing assistance partnerships and solutions to provide adequate school supplies and materials are all upcoming projects Tucson Values Teachers is working on and plans to announce by the end of 2009.
"Tucson Values Teachers has solid successes, thanks to the community's efforts," Jackson said. "We hope to provide additional benefits to teachers to reflect the enormous benefits they provide to our community and its future."
"Despite the dramatic budget cuts and subsequent unemployment of area teachers, it is the goal of Tucson Values Teachers to raise teacher salaries by at least $10,000 over the next several years," Wilson said.
"Tucson Values Teachers hopes the entire community will join forces behind our teachers," Wilson said. "When our teachers excel, our kids prosper. It is that simple."
For a full list of participating businesses and discount details, visit www.tucsonvaluesteachers.org.