As a mother of six kids, there are so many different teachers to whom I entrust my children day after day. And now, as we approach the end of the school year (sob!), I need to write to you to tell you how much I respect and admire you and all that you do.
First, for my youngest daughters’ teachers in nursery school. I believe nursery school teachers are a special breed. For the first time, our kids are away from home, and you become their out-of-the-house fearless leader. You teach them so much – but I’m not even talking about the stuff they are “officially” learning, like their colors and shapes and Hebrew words for body parts.
As nursery school teachers, you teach them how to socialize with other small people who aren’t their siblings. You teach them how to sit on the carpet together without picking their noses (or someone else’s). You teach them not to bite — and you sometimes have to respond with the speed of a Navy SEAL in order to stop that from happening. You teach them how to walk in the hall in a line, how to go to the potty without their parents, how to eat their own lunch and throw out their garbage. In short, you have to teach them how to be independently able and kind — basically, the most important things in life. And you have to do it with a smile and a hug always at the ready. That is amazing. (And exhausting.)
To my daughter’s kindergarten teacher: You have taught her the foundations of the world of learning that’s about to unfold in front of her. You taught her how to resolve conflicts with her peers on her own. You showed her how to write and read (and you gently told me that maybe I should think about getting her glasses when she had trouble — and you were right!). You helped her to grow in leaps and bounds, and to savor that process of growing. You gave her all the tools to take with her into her future.
My oldest daughter’s first grade teacher: You are an incredible person. You are endlessly joyful and you convey a sense that there is nowhere that you’d rather be than in the classroom with my child. You’ve nurtured my kid’s sense of curiosity and possibility, teaching her all the ways that exist in the world to learn more. You are so kind, and with your everyday behavior, you’ve shown my daughter how to interact with people, whether small or big.
Thank you to my son’s Spanish teacher. You showed him that speaking a foreign language can be fun. You gave assignments that challenged to be both fluent and creative. (And funny — if you see his Nutrition and Exercise video in Spanish, you will not be able to stop laughing.) You made him look forward to your class, and you gave him a sense of power by teaching him that he can interact with people in a language that isn’t his mother tongue.
I can’t sing enough praises of my son’s Algebra teacher, who put in endless hours with him after and before school to help him get through a subject that’s pretty difficult for him. Thank you for caring for him like he was your own — for calling me during your break to tell me how to help him study, for discussing your concerns with me in a loving and respectful way, and for making me feel like I had a teammate in this lifelong quest to get this kid educated.
Thank you so much to all the teachers who spent weekends and nights working with my kid, choreographing complicated dance moves and brokering backstage politics. You aren’t even drama teachers – you do this in your time off! You massaged middle school egos, you helped these kids build confidence, and you guided them to amazing performances — the logistics alone would have been enough to break a parent’s back. You did it all with so much love and attention. And I have a feeling it wasn’t for the cash bonus.
I cannot even type the following words without crying, but they need to be expressed: From the bottom of my heart, thank you to the music teacher who told my son and his friends after Parkland that while they are at school, they are her kids, and she will protect them as though they were her own children. There are no words for how magnificent you are.
The word “hero” gets thrown around a lot. But surely it is even more heroic when people do the kinds of things that you all do, day in and day out, with little monetary thanks and no ticker tape parades, medals, or statues. You do what you do because you believe that it is a gift to be with our children. We know that you are the real gifts.
Parents: It is up to us to make sure that our children are themselves monuments to the greatness of their teachers — and to send notes like this to our kids’ teachers to tell each one of them that they are truly remarkable.
(And anyone who doesn’t adequately appreciate teachers now, check back with me on the second day of summer vacation, and tell me how you feel then. ☺)