Now that the end of the school year is fast approaching, it is the time to show appreciation to those who have helped our children through the school year. Many schools collect money through a class parent or the PTA to offer a more substantial gift to the teachers, but there is still a special place for a personal gift and card expressing appreciation for a job well done.
There were years that I took the time to create personal gifts and there were years that I opted to just go with the class gift. Now that my children have all graduated from elementary, middle and high school (phew!), I regret that I didn’t take the personal route more often.
And, here is why.
A personal display of appreciation really is important. Words and gestures really do matter. And, they last for a very long time, sometimes a lifetime. This is a lesson I should have learned earlier, but it is an important lesson imparted to me by my daughter, Michelle.
One year, on the first day of school, Michelle came home with a big smile on her face. “I have the meanest teacher in the school,” she delighted in telling me.
Most parents would worry. I knew to trust Michelle because I understood why she was smiling. Michelle was up to the challenge of taming the “meanest teacher in the school.”
It was hard for me to believe that this teacher really was the ogre that Michelle and her friends believed. After all, she was a well-coiffed woman with the sweetest smile ever. Michelle assured me that the smile meant nothing and that this teacher smiled even as she made snarky comments to the class.
I waited patiently.
Over the course of the school year, Michelle seemed to have gotten used to this teacher. Even as her friends complained, Michelle worked at finding favor in the eyes of Mrs. Mean and almost begrudgingly, Mrs. Mean took a liking to Michelle.
In those days, I would write a poem as part of the year-end gift for those teachers that really went the extra mile. I wasn’t sure that this teacher had really been extraordinary and I was not planning to write that poem. Michelle thought differently.
A few days before school ended, Michelle asked me if I had written a poem for Mrs. Mean. I came up with a long list of excuses. “I’m too busy.” “I just can’t find the time to do it.” “I’m not sure your teacher would even care.”
Michelle countered with “what are you so busy with?” “It’s as important as anything else on your to-do list.” “You don’t know what a handwritten poem will do for this teacher.” And, finally, “Whatever is on your to-do list, I will do for you so that you can write the poem for my teacher.”
Now, that was an offer that I couldn’t refuse. So, Michelle cleaned the kitchen, set the table and did everything else that I was supposed to do. And, I sat down begrudgingly to write the poem. Of course, I encountered writer’s block. The words just wouldn’t flow because I really didn’t have much to say.
But, Michelle had a whole year’s worth of material. And, she was armed with the conviction that this poem was so vital to her teacher. So, after she completed all my chores, Michelle fed me the material. And, I wrote that poem. And, Michelle cheerfully delivered that poem to her teacher.
And, years later, I encountered that teacher. She was still so well-coiffed and smiley and I still had a hard time believing that she was a monster teacher. She remembered Michelle so vividly and asked about her. And, she told me that the gift and the poem are still on her windowsill where she reads the poem often. And, that the poem written by my pen and Michelle’s heart is one of her most treasured items.
Mrs. Mean would never know that the challenge that year was not in reading, writing, science or spelling. It was for Michelle to take on the meanest teacher. And, we all know that Michelle nailed the challenge in so many ways.
So, take the time to create a memorable gift that shows appreciation for a job well done.
Here are some helpful tips:
(1) Include something personal that shows you paid attention. Choose items in the recipient’s favorite color or theme. Include a personalized item, a gift card to their favorite store or favorite magazines, candy or food items.
(2) Find an interesting basket or box to contain multiple items. Find a container that matches the theme and is the right size to include all the items selected.
(3) Use clear cellophane wrap or cellophane bag to wrap items and secure corners with clear packing tape.
(4) Shred brown paper grocery bags in paper shredder to use as filler.
(5) Secure with a thick ribbon and trim top of cellophane wrap .
(6) Always include a personal note. Reference something that made your experience with this teacher or mentor unique and memorable. You never know if yours will be the note that your recipient treasures for a lifetime.