The school day might be over by the early afternoon, but for many teachers, the work doesn't end there.
Grading, lesson prep, and professional development often roll right on into evenings, weekend, and holidays.
And, at least in teacher Jennifer Pope's case, up to the very minute she gave birth.
Photographer Andrea McDonald captured Pope, a second-grade teacher from Texas, wrapping up some lesson planning ... in the hospital ... during labor.
"No, she is not doing her taxes," McDonald wrote on Facebook. "Those papers would be her lesson plans her husband is about to go drop off with her sub in the parking lot."
"[This week] is Teacher Appreciation Week here in Texas. Spoil them rotten because even in labor, they care."
The photo went viral in a flash and inspired other teachers across the country to share their own moving (and sometimes hilarious) stories of devotion.
"I once went dumpster diving for a missing retainer a student accidentally threw away," one wrote. "You would be amazed at what a teacher will do for her students!"
"I remember having the stomach flu," recalled another. "My mom was sitting on the bathroom floor with me, with a notepad. In between heaving I dictated sub plans from in front of the toilet, trying to remember which math lesson I was on, special events for that day etc. She had to type them up and email to my principal."
"My water broke with my first & we stopped at the school (at 2 am) for me to make last minute copies & prep a few more things before heading to the hospital," commented a fellow teacher-mom. "Most teachers are extremely dedicated to their most important responsibility — their students!!"
Have we mentioned teachers are, in general, severely underpaid, overworked, and underappreciated?
Because they are.
So, in honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, let's look past the seemingly cushy hours, the summers off, and the winter vacations.
Let's look at teachers like Jennifer Pope, who take their responsibility to their students so seriously that no obstacle could possibly keep them from giving the job their all.
Not even excruciating labor pains.