Teacher Appreciation Makes the World of Education Go ‘Round

Prior to becoming great, teachers were in training. It began, for many, as children playing “school” in their own playrooms. Many young girls knew they would grow up to educationally impact lives. They, too, had numerous influences such as parents and extended family members. Of course, favorite teachers along the journey introduced well-remembered fictitious characters, created a love of numerous subjects and instilled life-long habits still practiced. Men and women who became teachers are indeed paying “the passion of learning” forward.

As Teacher Appreciation Week is about to begin, May 5 through the 9th, students should consider not only what they have learned this year, but how they were influenced. What stories of history and science, math and literature changed their perspective and broadened their horizons? Perhaps a student’s love of learning was influenced long ago in early childhood with just one book.

How many preschool and elementary teachers have read the celebrated book “Miss Nelson is Missing” to their eager class? From character dress-up day to an on-stage performance, students for decades have learned important lessons when clever and too sweet Miss Nelson disguised herself as Miss Viola Swamp.  Within days, her students gladly welcomed back Miss Nelson’s gift of kindness. Little did they know, underneath a stern and strict façade, was a loveable teacher.

In fact, teachers have an honorary “gummy lump.” Many classrooms have one “messy” bulletin board that is now overflowing with notes, letters, school pictures and detailed drawings from students; while others keep scrapbooks or even hat boxes full of sentimental reminders of days long ago. Yes, teachers are
individually special for their talents and are similar in kind. Celebrate their spirit, their loyalty for the vocation, and their willingness to help all students in need.

How? Whether individual students offer words of appreciation or take the time to draw a picture or write a card, it is important for all students to find the best way to express themselves.

What Is In a Drawing?
Crayons have a universal appeal. For a child who may not be able to express his or her thoughts clearly, or a particularly shy child, a drawing would be an appropriate way to illustrate thoughts and feelings. Any teacher would love a drawing. Is it not amazing that the crayon picture, for instance, is one of the most treasured items teachers receive? Many teachers tend to favor those beautiful illustrations in their treasure chest of “gummy lumps.” The result provides instantaneous happiness.

Class Gifts
Parent representatives or classroom helpers may want to enlist the entire class to create a personalized homemade gift.

  • Sometimes the best gifts cost only a student’s time. Create a book titled “The Greatest Lessons Learned This Year,” for instance. Using string, cardboard, and construction paper, bind student responses into a book. For an added touch, students can attach their class picture and add a signature.
  • Present the teacher with personalized additions to the classroom library. Each student can donate one of their gently used books from home for the cause. Inside, each student can create a special sticker, which may include the child’s name, picture, and why that particular book was his or her personal favorite.
  • On tissue paper or construction paper, each student can create an “appreciation” flower. Putting all the flowers together, either in a borrowed vase or box, the teacher will be surprised to receive such a colorful and sentimental gift.

Parent Assistance

  • All teachers, including librarians and art teachers, may be in need of particular supplies. It would be a wonderful gift if parents could come together to help teachers increase the supply of construction paper; old thumb drives; Kleenex or Clorox wipes; or Post-It notes. (Be sure to ask first.)
  • To help with Teacher Appreciation Day or Week, contact your child’s PTA representative and see if you can assist, either in setting up a breakfast or lunch table, or donating time in a teacher’s classroom.

There is a great need to go beyond the classroom and reach out to those who create laws and policy, and who hold such strong opinions about the role of education in our great state. The Piedmont Triad has an enriching community of strong, dedicated teachers. While Teacher Appreciation Week is a celebratory moment for teachers, collectively, we must stand and support our teachers by establishing a voice, too.