Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Teacher Appreciation Week

It's Teacher Appreciation Week.  I think teachers live for this week.  L-I-V-E.  Mainly because it's about 20 days out from the end of the year.  If you have never experienced the end of the year as a teacher in a classroom setting, consider yourself lucky.  Yes, Teacher Appreciation Week is strategically planned at the end of the year so teachers remember that it really is worth it.

All kidding aside, have you thanked your child's teacher?  You don't have to do it with gifts.  Kind words go a long way.  A kind word from your child goes an extra long way.  If you are searching for that perfect gift though, here are some suggestions from a long list of gifts that were my absolute favorites...
  • A bouquet of small value gift cards...$5 to Hobby Lobby, Mardel, Apple Tree, QT, and Panera
  • A basket full of my favorites...Post-It Notes,  Dr. Pepper, Jelly Belly's, Trident Gum, New Ball Point Pens, and a picture of me with the class
  • A single rose from each child in the class.  When the kids brought me a rose, they also told me their favorite memory from the year.  I cried.  Tearing up now just thinking about it.
  • A Brighton Key Chain
  • Personalized Stationary
  • Earrings...lots of earrings!
  • A hanging basket of begonias
There were so many over the years, but I do have a stand out favorite.  One that made me cry as soon as it was opened. 

My very first year of teaching (those kids are graduating this year despite me), I had a little girl who was the outcast of the entire school.  The year prior to her being in my class, I would see her reading on the playground. Not playing.  Just reading.  It made me sad.

When I became her teacher in fourth grade, that reading she did every single day at recess made me hurt even more.  She didn't know how to read.  Her book was a cover.  A cover for her loneliness.  Awful.  Simply awful.  A child who couldn't read would take a book out to recess, hide in a corner, and pretend.  Once I found that out, it stopped immediately.  I started looking for the kids in the class who had tender hearts and starting pairing them up at recess.  At first it was awkward.  I even went out to play with them to be sure it was authentic.  Over time, a few of the kids began to ask her to play without prompting. 

I'm not sure if this was what made her decision to give me a gift or not, but she gave the best gift ever.  This little girl was extremely immature for her age.  She often brought toys to school that Kindergartners would bring. Most of the time those toys ended up on my desk, but only one stayed there permanently.

The very last day of Teacher Appreciation Week, this little girl wrapped up her most prized toy in aluminum foil and gave it to me.  I tried to give it back knowing how much it meant to her.  She refused.  After she walked away, my heart sank. 

I still have the little Beanie Baby in my attic along with the other little trinkets I was given throughout the years.  They all have a story, a memory, tied to them.  Some funny, some sentimental, but none as touching as the little girl's.

So no matter how big or small the gift, please show appreciation for the men and women who care for your children as much as they care for their own.

To my former staff, I hope you have the best week.  I cherish the time I worked with each one of you.  The work you do to better children is amazing. Thank you for being the teachers and women you are to each person who comes in contact with you.


Ashley said...

Aw this made me cry.

Alice said...

I love jelly belly's! And I love teachers.
You left me hanging...did the girl finally learn to read?