May 3, 2016 12:09 PM EDT

The latest Google Doodle marks National Teacher Appreciation Day 2016 with an animation of a large pencil reading to a group of smaller pencils designed by artist Nate Swinehart.

National Teacher Appreciation Day has been celebrated during the first week of May since 1985, but its origins are “murky,” according to the National Education Association (NEA).

The organization says that, back in 1944, Arkansas teacher Mattye Whyte Woodridge started lobbying political and education leaders for a national day honoring teachers — even soliciting the help of Eleanor Roosevelt, who supported the effort.

Congress proclaimed a National Teacher Day in 1980 on March 7, and the “holiday” was observed in March until 1985 when NEA decided the day would officially be celebrated on the Tuesday of the first week of May.

The 2016 “National Teacher Appreciation Week” also happens to correspond with the 50th anniversary of TIME’s May 6, 1966, cover story on “Great Teachers” (which can be read here).

Write to Olivia B. Waxman at

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