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Overworked and underpaid? | Lodi teacher sets up appreciation run to let educators know they matter

Isaiah Stowers said teachers aren't always appreciated the way he thinks they should be. He's holding a 5K appreciation run to rally support.

LODI, Calif. — The High Five for Teachers 5k is back by popular demand, and its effort to help teachers release years of pent-up stress might be more important than ever.

Isaiah Stowers, a science teacher at the Lodi Unified School District, is hoping a little physical activity can help relieve some of the stress that he says many other teachers are feeling.

The past two years were raucous due to the coronavirus pandemic, turning many people's lives upside down and taking students out of the classroom. Stowers said those impacts are still being felt to this day, even as California's COVID-19 cases drop.

"You're kind of making up for the fact that not everyone was doing distance learning with integrity, and because of that when we come back, they're behind," Stowers said.

It's a lot of changes that are still met with hurdles of state standards, expectations, trainings, and even discipline issues as kids returned to the classroom. Combined with new teachers transitioning from the virtual Zoom class to the real deal, Stowers said he's heard that some new teachers are rethinking their profession.

"There's so many parameters that are affecting the way that things are taught now, that that could affect why they feel like they're not good enough to teach right now," Stowers said.

Simply enough, he says teachers are feeling overworked, overstressed, and underpaid. If that sounds familiar, it might be because the Sacramento City Teachers Association went on strike for similar reasons after being at odds with the Sacramento City Unified School District (SCUSD).

RELATED: Sacramento Teachers Strike: No deal reached as closures continues into 5th school day

With the situation unfolding roughly 40 minutes away from his district, it's been hard for Stowers not to notice the similarities.

"I think that it hits home because our district feels the same way.... and I think a lot of other districts feel the same way too. It hurts me to watch it because I like seeing synergy between the administration and the teachers," Stowers said.

He said the goal of teachers and administration is to help the students, and roadblocks like strikes prevent that, especially when he says things could be easily fixed.

"I want them to work together just like I want our admin and superintendents to work together with our teachers... for the students," Stowers said.

His run started as a way to vent some of that pressure and show teachers that they are appreciated. After 130 signups for the run last year, he brought it back by popular demand and it's open to teachers, administrators, and anyone else who wants to show appreciation for teachers. You don't even have to run the 5K. Stowers said it's perfectly fine to walk the whole marathon.

"This is just a way to, you know, get some mindfulness kind of step away from your desk, step away from the Zoom calls and really just see other people and see how many people are here in support of you," Stowers said.

Anyone interested can sign up for the 5K HERE.  Interested persons have to sign up by Apr. 8. Full details on the marathon can be found on Stower's YouTube page "Stowers Does It All" or by clicking HERE.

Last year, the charity run raised $1,700 for the Giving Opportunities to Kids Foundation.

WATCH ALSO:  What is the High Five For Teacher 5K?

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