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A Note from John Bute, District 104 Superintendent – Ways to appreciate your teachers all year long

John Bute RESIZED Growing up my favorite teacher was always the one I just had the year before. After spending 40 weeks with a caring adult (other than my parents) who helped me learn new things it always amazed me that the next year’s teacher was just as compassionate and caring. With a mere five weeks left in this school year, I wonder who your favorite teacher is? This is the time of year when we reflect on the wonderful experiences the students engaged in and we look for ways to say “Thank You” to our student’s favorite teacher, this year’s teacher.

National Teacher Appreciation Week is May 2-May 6.

When I was an elementary school student my mom would make cookies for us to take to school. I would always struggle getting them to school because I wanted to eat two or five on the way (good thing my walk to school was only three blocks). When the end of the year rolled around in first grade, it seemed like all of my classmate’s parents chose to send cookies to school for Mrs. Turner. As I recall, she took a polite bite of every student’s offering right in front of the whole class.

In fourth grade I discovered my love for Math and for getting in trouble. Mrs. Steinmetz was awesome and she showed my class “tricks” to solving problems. She quickly became my favorite teacher that year. If we did something wrong, we were required to stay in her room for lunch and recess. That was fine by me, I loved my fourth grade teacher.

Fifth grade was an especially difficult year. That was the year of my first male teacher (he was also our next door neighbor), my first breakup, and the first year that my favorite teacher left the school district. There were several of us that were upset to learn that Mrs. Steinmetz moved away and took a teaching position in a neighboring community.

Middle school soon followed and the teacher appreciation offerings shifted. We no longer brought in cookies or cake instead we bought candles and jewelry. In high school, I cannot recall ever giving a teacher an appreciation gift. Although I had great teachers in both middle school (Mr. Hosick and Mrs. Stanley) and high school (Mr. Baird, Mr. Myers, Mr. McCoy, Ms. McCormick, and Mrs. Stein) I definitely did not recognize them then as I do today. These were the teachers that laid the foundation for the educator that I became. I wrote a thank you letter once to Mr. Stringer, my psychology teacher and tennis coach. I may not have been the most gifted student/athlete he ever coached but he had a profound impact on my life during some of those difficult teenage years.

Here are some ways to appreciate teachers all year long:

  1. Host a “Thank You Breakfast” during Teacher Appreciation Week, or during another time of the year when they least expect and most need it.
  2. Whenever you are able, send a personally written — preferably, handwritten — note of thanks or appreciation to teachers “caught” caring or who pulled off terrific classroom projects.
  3. Provide doughnuts in the morning — for no special reason at all other than to say “Thank you.”
  4. Be on the lookout for special gifts that relate to teachers’ special interests. Dollar stores and other budget outlets can be great places to find those kinds of things–for example, a small birdhouse for a teacher who loves birding, a picture frame for a teacher with school-age children, a book of crossword puzzles for the puzzle fan on your staff.
  5. Establish a bulletin board on which to spotlight a different teacher(s) each month.
  6. Purchase fresh flowers for teachers’ desks during parent-teacher conference week.
  7. Put in teachers’ mailboxes your personal list of “Twenty-Five Things That Make Central SD 104 Great!”
  8. Recognize a teacher who has gone above and beyond by putting in his or her mailbox a voucher for a free cup of coffee at Starbucks or another local spot.

There are many places one can go to search for great teacher appreciation ideas (e.g., Facebook and Pinterest). I have been blessed with numerous wonderful teachers from my past schooling and equally blessed with wonderful teachers in the here and now. To all of them, “THANKS, FOR ALL THAT DO!” You are truly appreciated.