These Teacher Appreciation Week tributes are ridiculously heartwarming.

It's Teacher Appreciation Week, and students, parents, and administrators all across America are stepping up to honor the people who devote their careers to enriching minds and shaping lives.

Educators from Maine to Alaska walked into their schools to find their desks, doors, and hallways covered with messages of love, support, and thanks.

The tributes were about as lovely — and creative — as you'd expect.


Some teachers were showered with gifts.

Others were showered with ... nachos.

Some students upped their fruit game.

And others upped their decoration game ... like these fourth-graders in Wisconsin.

Kids at a Las Vegas school honored their teachers with a dance routine:

A North Carolina school created a Walk of Fame for its star educators.

"I felt super special," says Emily Francis, an ESL teacher.  "Reading every teacher's names made me feel part of a team making a difference and changing lives."

Students from a Missouri elementary school went classic and delivered flowers to their teachers.

"A parent stood at the door and gave each kid a flower as they walked in, after they had already delivered an empty 'vase' (popcorn bucket) to each of us before the day started," says Jen Bearden, a first-grade teacher at the school. "I was then greeted with 21 smiles and thank-yous to begin my week."

And a Baltimore-area school won the day by treating its teachers to the greatest gift of all: free pizza.

Meanwhile, hundreds of adults posted on Twitter to pay tribute to the educators who shaped their lives:

Americans clearly appreciate their teachers — but as a country, we sometimes have a funny way of showing it.

A 2016 study published by the Economic Policy Institute found that public school teachers earn 17% less than other college-educated professionals on average.

Teacher salaries have actually decreased since the mid-'90s, when adjusted for inflation, despite them working 10+ hour days, in many cases.

Truly acknowledging our teachers' centrality in shaping our lives and the lives of our children should mean paying them what they're worth and helping them do their jobs effectively.

That means supporting teachers' right to a strong union and supporting their efforts to negotiate higher salaries. It can also mean donating classroom supplies, which many teachers have to provide themselves, or volunteering in your local school.

For next Teacher Appreciation Week, it's on us to help give America's educators the best gifts of all: support in the classroom, adequate time off, and a fair wage.

Though ... I'm sure they'd appreciate the free pizza again too.

Courtesy of Verizon
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If someone were to say "video games" to you, what are the first words that come to mind? Whatever words you thought of (fun, exciting, etc.), we're willing to guess "healthy" or "mental health tool" didn't pop into your mind.

And yet… it turns out they are. Especially for Veterans.

How? Well, for one thing, video games — and virtual reality more generally — are also more accessible and less stigmatized to veterans than mental health treatment. In fact, some psychiatrists are using virtual reality systems for this reason to treat PTSD.

Secondly, video games allow people to socialize in new ways with people who share common interests and goals. And for Veterans, many of whom leave the military feeling isolated or lonely after they lose the daily camaraderie of their regiment, that socialization is critical to their mental health. It gives them a virtual group of friends to talk with, connect to, and relate to through shared goals and interests.

In addition, according to a 2018 study, since many video games simulate real-life situations they encountered during their service, it makes socialization easier since they can relate to and find common ground with other gamers while playing.

This can help ease symptoms of depression, anxiety, and even PTSD in Veterans, which affects 20% of the Veterans who have served since 9/11.

Watch here as Verizon dives into the stories of three Veteran gamers to learn how video games helped them build community, deal with trauma and have some fun.

Band of Gamers www.youtube.com

Video games have been especially beneficial to Veterans since the beginning of the pandemic when all of us — Veterans included — have been even more isolated than ever before.

And that's why Verizon launched a challenge last year, which saw $30,000 donated to four military charities.

And this year, they're going even bigger by launching a new World of Warships charity tournament in partnership with Wargaming and Wounded Warrior Project called "Verizon Warrior Series." During the tournament, gamers will be able to interact with the game's iconic ships in new and exciting ways, all while giving back.

Together with these nonprofits, the tournament will welcome teams all across the nation in order to raise money for military charities helping Veterans in need. There will be a $100,000 prize pool donated to these charities, as well as donation drives for injured Veterans at every match during the tournament to raise extra funds.

Verizon is also providing special discounts to Those Who Serve communities, including military and first responders, and they're offering a $75 in-game content military promo for World of Warships.

Tournament finals are scheduled for August 8, so be sure to tune in to the tournament and donate if you can in order to give back to Veterans in need.

Courtesy of Verizon

Ready for the weekend? Of course, you are. Here's our weekly dose of good vibes to help you shed the stresses of the workweek and put yourself in a great frame of mind.

These 10 stories made us happy this week because they feature amazing creativity, generosity, and one super-cute fish.

1. Diver befriends a fish with the cutest smile

Hawaiian underwater photographer Yuki Nakano befriended a friendly porcupine fish and now they hang out regularly.

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