Manatee School District officials recruited some celebrities to honor Manatee’s teachers.
Greg Brady had a special message for the teachers of Manatee County on Tuesday.
"It is Teacher Appreciation Week, and I have a huge shoutout to the teachers in the School District of Manatee County," said Barry Williams, who as a child played Greg Brady on "The Brady Bunch," in a video created by the district. "Your School District reached out to me and wanted me to let you teachers know how much they appreciate you, your hard work and your dedication."
Williams wasn’t the only celebrity thinking about the teachers in Manatee County.
He was joined by NFL Hall of Fame linebacker Derrick Brooks and soccer superstar Brandi Chastain, all three thanking Manatee’s educators for their dedication in a video commemorating Teachers Appreciation Week.
The shoutout came about because district Superintendent Cynthia Saunders, who appeared in the video as well, wanted to do something unique this year, given the circumstances. District spokesman Mike Barber came up with the idea of finding celebrities through the website Cameo, where they offer to send customized short videos for a fee.
Barber said he picked Williams, Chastain and Brooks because all three have positive images, and the trio seemed more appropriate than the scads of reality TV stars hawking their services on Cameo.
Plus all three have connections to the world of education. Chastain and Brooks continue to work with students. Williams’ experience in education seems mostly limited to playing a teenager on TV, but district officials decided that hearing a "thank you" from Greg Brady would give their teachers a good laugh.
The total cost for all three celebrities was $375 ($125 for Williams, $150 for Chastain and $100 for Brooks) and Barber said the district leadership would be paying the cost out of their own pockets, rather than using taxpayer money.
Brooks grew up in Pensacola, and when he was a high school junior, his team lost in the state playoff semifinals to the Manatee High School Hurricanes. He went on to win a Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and he seems to have gotten over the high school loss, as he specifically thanked local teachers.
"I just want to thank you guys for working hard during these tough times," Brooks said. "As a fellow believer in the mission of education, I humbly thank you again for all of your support, especially those in Bradenton and Palmetto."
Chastain held up a poster she had drawn of a Manatee and told the teachers she related to the challenges they were facing.
"I am a soccer coach, so I understand that long-distance teaching is very challenging, but that our students and players need us more than ever," she said.
Williams encouraged teachers to remain positive, hearkening back to Greg Brady’s experience in an intense student body president campaign.
"I must say it kind of reminds me of when I decided to run against my TV sister Marsha for class president and things were getting pretty, pretty tough," Williams said. "Some mud was being slung until we learned about unity and fairness or like Mike Brady would say, ‘All for one, and one for all."
Williams closed the video with a reference to "It’s a Sunshine Day," the cheery hit recorded by Williams and his TV siblings in 1974.
"Thank you teachers for being there on the front lines of higher learning," Williams said. "… From me and the whole blooming Brady Bunch, have a sunshine day."
The video can be viewed at https://vimeo.com/manateeschools.