On a recent Friday night, club lights pulsed and a DJ spun top 40 hits at Element Nightclub on Manhattan's Lower East Side. Nobody was dancing yet, but a group of teachers seated on lounge chairs announced plans to hit the dance floor later.
“If there’s a lot of dancing, I’ll participate,” said Camille Ariah, a kindergarten teacher at P.S. 195 in the Bronx.
Ariah was one of about 250 teachers who attended "Teachers Night Out," an event thrown by Jason Gordon, a public relations and marketing manager whose wife is a teacher. Gordon said he planned the event to celebrate teachers like her.
“I see how hard she works throughout the year, grading and lesson planning,” Gordon said. “So many educators in New York City do the same thing, and I just wanted to give them something really fun to do to celebrate end of the school year.”
Gordon teamed up with managers at Element, who agreed to host the event for free. The teachers in attendance were happy to have a party thrown just for them.
Ruth Lopez, a second-grade teacher at P.S. 188, saw an ad for the event and knew instantly she was going to come.
“I saw it in the paper and it said, ‘the hardest working people: teachers.’ People don’t realize what we do, the money we spend, no one sees that,” Lopez said.
Lopez has been a teacher for 26 years, and said this school year was the most difficult. Gordon said he too noticed that this was a particularly tough year for teachers, and hoped this event would rejuvenate them.
“This isn’t about the politics of the classroom, and we’re not going to evaluate their dancing,” Gordon said. “We’re here to have fun.”
Gordon said he hopes to make an annual Teachers Night Out a city tradition.