A REAL Teacher Appreciation Day


Last night I went to a post wedding party of one of my former students. Her wedding was held in December and I couldn’t attend because it was also the weekend of my family Christmas celebration.

I was disappointed not to attend, but this post wedding party was for all of us who were too involved in the holiday rush to do so, and I was thrilled with the opportunity to spend some time with her.

IMG_1913 This family is really special to me, because we HAVE stayed in touch, and  they laughingly call me their “family teacher.” I taught Liz in Kindergarten and second grade and her brother, Mason, in first and third grades. I have stayed connected to these folks since they moved from my school (after Mason was in third), and have even had the kids stay overnight with me camping and on a beach vacation for a couple of days.We’ve shared birthday parties, graduations, ball games and other various events where we’ve had a lot of fun over the years.

Cool kids, cool family, and last night I knew hardly ANY of the people who were attending this spaghetti supper celebration. Each and EVERY single time Liz introduced me as her Kindergarten teacher, though, the response was, “OH, so you’re the one responsible for this wonderful girl.” Or, “YOU’RE the reason why she turned out to be such a wonderful person,” or “You’re who we have to thank for her turning out to be such a fabulous human being.”

Liz and I would make eye contact and laugh as she would agree with whomever was giving me kudos, and my response became, “Well, maybe I can take a tiny bit of the credit.”


She–and her family–really are amazing people and I am blessed to have been involved with all of them. Last night was really special, not only because of the bond I have with them, and how much fun it was, but also because of the kindness shown to me as a teacher by complete strangers.

As I drove away, however, I couldn’t help but think of the difference between that experience and what teachers usually face daily–questions, concerns, challenges, etc. My friend, though, hit the nail on the head when she summed the night up like this: “Well, that was a room FULL of people who appreciate what teachers do!”

WOW!  I left, feeling like a celebrity.

Today, I feel humbled and honored by those remarks.  We DO make a difference–good or bad–and we all need that kind of feedback.

So, when your child asks what to get the teacher for a gift-giving holiday or the end of the year, when she or he comes home with a cool story of the great day s/he had at school, make it special to the teacher too, by picking up the phone and telling them that, or having your child write them a thank you note–and add a small one of your own at the bottom.  THOSE are the REAL Teacher Appreciation Days–when it happens unexpectedly!

4 thoughts on “A REAL Teacher Appreciation Day

  1. I’m just smiling, Paula. What a wonderful evening that must have been for you! I remember meeting Mason and his sister, Liz when you were their teacher at Murray and we were working on a class or project together. Savor the memories!

  2. Actually, I think you may have met them at Yancey when they were the summer school teachers’ babysitter. We brought them with us and had them babysit all of our kids together so we could all work in the summer! Yeah, they’ve been an integral part of this teacher’s life. . . and I also couldn’t help but wonder how many of those people last night had heard “Ms. White” stories. We’ve certainly got some funny ones!

    Janelle, you ought to pull out some of your letters and share your memories and tell your stories, too!

  3. I hope one day when I am a teacher I touch a students life like you have with Liz and her family. Being a military brat it was hard to connect to one teacher because we did not stay in one place very long. I enjoyed moving around because I got to experience a lot more than my friends who have lived in one state all their lives. I would have loved to been able to share that connection because teachers are mentors to the students they teach and one teacher may stick out to that student because of how they help them search for a purpose. Thank you for showing me that I to one day can change a students life and leave a legacy with one.

  4. Hi! My name is Rebecca, I am a student at the University of South Alabama in Dr. Strange EDM 310 Class.

    I must say, I did tear up while reading this article! I absolutely love stories such as this and it just proves people wrong who say Teaching is a ‘thankless job’. It can be in very small ways and if people would just give more feedback and kuddos maybe it would be a whole lot better! Thank you so much for posting this, I am thrilled to have gotten to read!


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