Friday, May 30, 2014

How Do You Thank a Teacher?

Our school year is finally winding to a close one week from today. It's been a long year in some ways, but so short in many other ways. 
This was me and my girls on the first day of school. Don't let the picture fool you. I was a bundle of tears after we dropped our little baby girl {ok, 5 year old} off for her first day of school. I held back the tears until Hubs and I drove out of the parking lot.
What a year this has been! Our oldest is finishing up her last year of elementary school. She's really come a long way this year. I cannot believe she's going to middle school in the fall! Every school year she has been excited about learning and really loves history and science. {We won't mention the wailing and gnashing of teeth over the math homework.} Right now, she says she's going to be a mechanical engineer when she grows up...I could totally see that happening, but we'll see. I think she'd make an awesome historian, scientist, journalist or negotiator. She's been really good at the latter her whole life. {wink}
Our 2nd child is finishing up the 2nd grade. She's the tallest girl in her class and probably will be for awhile. This girl truly has a gift for drawing. It's how she expresses herself and how she relaxes. I have been blown away by many of her drawings. She doodles on any paper she can get her hands on. In fact, the other day, she came home very offended because her teacher told her that she is wasting paper by drawing on everything. I had to reassure her that drawing is NOT wasting paper, but to be sure to use her own paper from home and not the teacher's paper. If she doesn't grow up to be some kind of artist, I will be shocked.
My little K5 graduate learned SO MUCH this year! She had been waiting so long to go to school and this was finally her year. She loved everything about it. Reading, writing, playing, making friends, etc. has been so much fun for her. Every day she is happy to go to school and that makes my heart happy. She does her homework for the whole week on Monday afternoons....and then begs for more. She can't get enough! Wonder how long that will last?
I am so thankful for the teachers we've had this year. Really, every year we've had good teachers, but this year they've been exceptional. You never know what to expect with a new teacher every year and much prayer goes into our school year for my girls' teachers. We've had some change this year with one awesome teacher having to leave early this semester for unexpected heart surgery and one teacher moving to a new city, but overall, it's been great. As our year ends, I am trying to think of ways to say thank you to our teachers and I'm coming up short. Nothing I've found seems adequate. When I think of all the lives they've touched this year and the ups and downs they've gone through with my kids and all the other kids and the drama they put up with every single day, especially in the upper elementary grades....Whew!  The parents. I've had to send a few emails this semester for a certain subject, but I can't imagine dealing with parents on a regular basis. The emotional side of teaching must be really tough for some. This year in my daughter's 5th grade class there were some tough things some of the students faced because of their sad home lives. Those kind of things carry over into the school life and it's hard for teachers {and fellow students} to see them go through it.
But teachers - good teachers - do what they can to help even though it means riding an emotional roller coaster at times. They do what it takes to teach that crazy math problem {that your child will never need to know in the real world} and help your child understand it because they want to see your child succeed. It's not just about a math problem, it's about learning to overcome obstacles when there seems to be no good reason for it in the first place. It's about learning to face issues head on and finding the solution that works best for everyone involved. Good teachers come back everyday ready to do it all over again for the sake of your child's growth and development even when those they are teaching have no idea the amount of work and dedication that goes into it. Good teachers are the ones that are there because they want to be. It's hard work and I can spot a mile away a teacher who wants to be there and those who don't.
I'm thankful today for the teachers who want to be there. Those who touched my kids' lives this year. They have made a lasting impact on all three of them. Mrs. E. has inspired my oldest to do her best and have fun doing it. She doesn't take everything so seriously. The students love her and she loves them. It's so obvious. Mrs. T. had to leave the school year early for heart surgery, but she was an amazing 2nd grade teacher. She was kind and happy. She helped my middle girl look forward to going back to school every day when she would have otherwise been homesick. She impacted my little future artist in a big way. Mrs. B loved on my 'baby' everyday. She has the patience of Job. She runs a tight ship, but does it in a sweet way and the students respond accordingly. A kind heart makes all the difference in the world to a little kid. Mrs. C. was a perfect K5 assistant. She's a grandma-type, so incredibly sweet and gentle with every child. She truly loves those kids. And the fact that she dresses up is awesome. Think June Cleaver in her 70s with dyed jet black hair. Love her!
It's hard to just say 'Thank You' to these incredible people who have invested so much into my daughters' lives, but we're going to attempt it. I'm trying to come up with something for each individual teacher that represents our gratitude for all they've done this year. It won't be nearly enough, but at least it's something. I've found some cute ideas and you can find them on my Pinterest board, Teacher's Gifts.

How do you thank a teacher?
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