According to the National Education Association, the details around the origins of National Teacher Appreciation Day are murky. It appears to date back to 1944 when Arkansas teacher Mattye Whyte Woodridge began a letter writing campaign to petition political and education leaders for a national day to honor educators. Eleanor Roosevelt received one of those letters and the rest, as they say, is history.

This year, with their theme Great Teachers Make Great Public Schools, the National Education Association draws attention to the role teachers play in ensuring that every child receives a quality public education, according to its Web site. Meanwhile, the Parent Teacher Association and the NEA have co- sponsored the Nation's Largest Teacher Thank-You Card Project. The 8-foot-tall, 50-foot-long mural, to be signed by thousands, will be unveiled next year, location to be determined.

What is the one gift that teachers polled by the NEA last year said would make them feel most appreciated? Close to one-half said a thank you would suffice.