Teachers are real life superheroes who mentor, motivate and inspire. They bring magic to the mundane and simplify the complex. They help children reveal their own super powers, slipping notes of encouragement into backpacks and phoning parents to celebrate success. They make a difference in the lives of millions of children, every single day, and for that they deserve our deepest respect and gratitude.
Take a little time this week May 2-6, âª#âTeacherAppreciationWeekâ¬ to thank an educator who has made a profound difference in your life. âªFinding the right tokens or words of gratitude doesn’t have to be difficult, says Stacey Kratz, a PTA board member from the Canyons School District. Often, the gifts that mean the most are the least elaborate, such as a small treat the teacher likes or something on their classroom wish list. “Teachers often spend their own money on classroom supplies and it seems like dry erase markers and felt tip pens are always in high-demand,” Kratz says. As the teacher appreciation chair at Midvale Middle School where a high proportion of students are economically disadvantaged, Kratz makes paper cutouts of stars and then invites students to fill them with messages of gratitude. Some kids spend their entire lunch period filling the stars with personal stories about the difference a teacher has made in their lives, she says. It costs almost nothing, but the sentiments in the hand-written notes are invaluable. As a teacher, knowing you’ve made a difference is the best gift of all.
How else can parents give thanks, besides with gifts? Nothing says “I care” like a helping hand, and schools are almost always in need of volunteers to give spelling tests, score quizzes or prep for hands-on science and art demonstrations, Kratz says. A lot of parents work full time, but there are plenty of tasks that parents can do in the evening at home. The PTA has a program encouraging parents to devote just three hours to classroom volunteering in a school year an obligation that can easily be met during the lunch hour or early in the morning.
Is it possible to show appreciation year-round, and not just during a single week in the month of May? Sure, says Kratz, and one of the best ways is to be an advocate for teachers and for public schools. Attend your school board meetings, pay attention to education policy debates at the Legislature and speak up. “If you’re a person who can talk from experience about the great things that are happening in Utah’s classrooms, your voice can make a difference,” says Kratz. “Just be involved. The more you know about what’s going on in our schools, the more you’re in a position to advocate for them.”