May 3-7 is National Teacher Appreciation Week; Is Anybody Listening?

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According to ING Foundation survey, teachers have profound, lasting impact.

Effective teachers can have a significant influence on their students’ lives, yet as our research shows, their efforts are generally under-appreciated.

Nearly all Americans believe that a good teacher can change the course of a student’s life, yet the teaching profession remains tremendously under-appreciated, according to the results of a nationwide survey by the ING Foundation.

Almost nine in 10 (88%) of the 1,000 Americans age 18+ who were surveyed said they had a teacher growing up who had a “significant, positive impact” on their life, and 98% of Americans believe that a good teacher can change the course of a student’s life. In fact, outside of immediate family, teachers were seen by Americans as the group that had the greatest, positive impact on their lives growing up, even more so than friends.

While an overwhelming 93% of those surveyed agree that teaching is a noble profession, and 89% believe teachers have a “really hard job,” teachers’ contributions have generally been under-recognized. Overall, teachers are perceived as receiving less public gratitude than other “helping professionals,” including doctors, nurses, social workers or clergy.    

“Effective teachers can have a significant influence on their students’ lives, yet as our research shows, their efforts are generally under-appreciated,” said Rhonda Mims, president of the ING Foundation and senior vice president of ING’s Office of Corporate Responsibility and Multicultural Affairs. “Celebrating Teacher Appreciation Week gives all of us an important opportunity to acknowledge the critical role of the teaching profession and the lasting impact teachers have on our lives.”

The telephone survey of 1,000 adults was conducted between April 9 and April 11, 2010, by the national polling firm of GfK Roper. All respondents were at least 18 years of age. The margin of error for the 1,000 interviews is +/-3.0

Transforming Lives… Yet Overlooked and Under-Appreciated

Among the vast majority of Americans who said they had a teacher or teachers who had a “significant, positive impact” on their life growing up, 83% said they had a teacher who helped build their confidence and self-esteem, 79% had a teacher who encouraged them to pursue their dreams, 75% said a teacher served as a mentor or role model, and 54% said that a teacher helped them through a tough time.

“Teachers help in many ways,” said Mims. “Whether sending a student down a path they hadn’t considered or simply ensuring them they are ready for the road ahead, a teacher’s impact can be profound and enduring.”

At the same time, the vast majority of Americans (94%) acknowledge that we need to do more to recognize our teachers. Reflecting on their own educational experience, 87% wish they had told their best teachers how much they appreciated their efforts.

“While admiration for the teaching profession is widespread, expressions of gratitude are too few and far between,” noted Catherine Smith, CEO, ING U.S. Retirement Services. “Most of us had a teacher growing up who cultivated a love of learning, helped us through a trying time or encouraged us to pursue our dreams. May 3 – 7 is Teacher Appreciation Week. It’s never too late to say thanks for lessons that last a lifetime.”

ING Shows Its Appreciation as Sponsor of National Teacher of the Year Program

The ING Foundation conducted the survey in conjunction with its sponsorship of the National Teacher of the Year Award, a program of the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO). It is the nation’s oldest, most prestigious awards program recognizing excellence in K-12 education.

On Thursday, April 29, President Barack Obama named Sarah Brown Wessling, an English teacher and English Department Chair at Johnston High School in Johnston, Iowa, as the 2010 National Teacher of the Year in special ceremonies at the White House. Wessling was recognized for her community involvement, interactive and innovative teaching style and her inclusiveness in the classroom.

"By sponsoring the National Teacher of the Year program, we are able to recognize, honor and thank teachers such as Sarah, who are committed to helping our children excel,” Smith said. “At ING, we understand the critical role our nation’s teachers play in preparing today’s youth for tomorrow’s challenges. That’s why we, in turn, are committed to helping educators meet the challenge of their own financial future through our retirement products, services and support for the academic community.”

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About ING
ING is a global financial institution of Dutch origin offering banking, investments, life insurance and retirement services to over 85 million private, corporate and institutional clients in more than 40 countries. With a diverse workforce of over 107,000 people, ING comprises a broad spectrum of prominent companies that increasingly serve their clients under the ING brand.

In the U.S., the ING (NYSE: ING) family of companies offers a comprehensive array of financial services to retail and institutional clients, which includes life insurance, retirement plans, mutual funds, managed accounts, alternative investments, direct banking, institutional investment management, annuities, employee benefits and financial planning. ING holds top-tier rankings in key U.S. markets and serves nearly 30 million customers across the nation.

ING’s diversity management philosophy and commitment to workforce diversity, diversity marketing, corporate citizenship and supplier diversity fosters an inclusive environment for employees that supports a distinctive product and service experience for the financial services consumer. For more information, visit

About the ING Foundation
The ING Foundation's mission is to improve the quality of life in the communities where ING operates and its employees and customers live. Through charitable giving and employee volunteerism, the foundation focuses on sustainable programs in the areas of financial literacy, children's education, diversity and environmental sustainability. For more information, visit


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