According to teacher-appreciation.info, “about 1944 Arkansas teacher Mattye Whyte Woodridge began corresponding with political and education leaders about the need for a national day to honor teachers and show teacher appreciation. Woodbridge wrote to Eleanor Roosevelt who in 1953 persuaded the 81st Congress to proclaim a National Teacher Day that would serve to the purpose of celebrating teacher appreciation across the nation.”
After much lobbying by the National Education Association (NEA) and others, Congress declared March 7, 1980, as National Teacher Day. The NEA and its affiliates continued to observe Teacher Day on the first Tuesday in March until 1985, when NEA and the National PTA established Teacher Appreciation Week as the first full week of May. The NEA Representative Assembly then voted to make the Tuesday of that week National Teacher Day.