It’s U.S. Teacher Appreciation Week, and Google commemorated the educators of the United States with a Monday homepage doodle produced in collaboration with all 55 winners of the Council of Chief State School Officers’ Teacher of the Year award this year. The work covers the theme of what it means to be a teacher, and its creation led to the winners exploring questions of the impact they have on students’ lives.

“Being a teacher is about those relational connections, telling our students, ‘I am here with you. Let’s do this together,’” Jonathan Juravic, one of the collaborators on the doodle, said in a statement. Juravic is an art teacher at Liberty Tree Elementary School and the winner of Ohio’s 2018 Teacher of the Year award. “This is what I hope the world takes away from this Doodle. That as teachers, we are a part of the quest for discovery. That we are there to guide, to encourage and to support our students as unique individuals. That this journey is one that is full of challenges, but also joy.”

Jonathan Juravich teaching his class.
Jonathan Juravich teaching his class.

The winners met at Google’s headquarters in January, where they discussed how they fit into their roles in their various states and how they can use their newly formed connections to advocate for changes. As an art teacher, Juravich visited the Google website every morning to see the latest doodle — a long-standing tradition that has celebrated the work of names like filmmaker Sergei Eisenstein, horticulturist Gertrude Jekyll and philanthropist George Peabody.

The teachers split into five groups and worked on each letter of the doodle individually. The team decided to make the “E” graduate to show progression — but, Juravic said, “that is not where our students’ stories end. … I hope our students know, both in moments great and small, that we will continue to support and celebrate them into their futures.”

For these teachers, their year has just begun. Winners of the award are relieved from classroom duties for the year and sent to travel nationally and internationally, speaking at over 150 events to audiences of over 10,000 people. The winners meet the president of the United States, who introduces them to the American people.

Monday’s Doodle is just one part of a highly prestigious year for these lucky winners.